5 Health Benefits of Hot Chilies

Beautiful red hot chili peppers growing in a pot.

To combat yin (or cold) conditions, chili is a great medicinal food to eat—especially in cold and wet climates, as the characteristic is heating and drying.(Image: Alisali via Dreamstime)

For spicy food lovers, hot chilies go very well with rice. Besides the flavor, there are many health benefits of eating them. They wake up the taste buds and also provide important nutrients. Hot chilies contain Vitamin C and are rich in capsaicin in their seeds and skin. They can boost the immune system, promote weight loss, and lower cholesterol. Studies have shown that moderate consumption of fresh hot chilies can lower bad cholesterol and protect the heart and blood vessels.

The Vitamin A in hot chilies can protect the gastrointestinal mucosa and eyes to keep them moist. The ß-carotene content can prevent coronary disease. The fiber promotes intestinal motility. The potassium is a diuretic and helps reduce edema. High-heat cooking however can destroy some of the nutrients. Tossing fresh chilies with a sauce or dipping them in dressing is the healthiest way to eat them.

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The benefits of eating hot chilies

Whet the appetite

The capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin in hot chilies stimulate oral and gastrointestinal secretions and promote digestive enzymatic reactions. They whet the appetite and enhance digestion.

Hot chilies whet the appetite and enhance digestion.
Chilies whet the appetite and enhance digestion. (Image: Rsooll via Dreamstime)

Chase the chill away

According to the Food Materia Medica, a classic food and herbal encyclopedia from the Yuan Dynasty of China, hot chilies can warm up the stomach and spleen. Eating them can enhance metabolism and blood circulation, heat the body, and drive away the chill. People with a cold body type can eat them to help improve their condition.

Stop pain and disperse heat

Hot chilies make the body heat up and sweat, a condition that can lower body heat and relieve muscle pain. Studies in the U.S. have shown that the heating effect of capsaicin reduces the amount of substance P, a chemical that acts as a pain messenger in the body. Thus, they help relieve muscle or joint pain.

Improve complexion

The capsaicin and vitamins in hot chilies can stimulate hormone secretion in the body which can correct the skin as a whole.

Prevent gallstones

The amount of Vitamin C in hot chilies surpasses that of tomatoes, strawberries, and lemons. Frequent consumption of them can help convert cholesterol into bile acid, which can prevent gallstones from forming.

Ripe red tomatoes with drops of water clinging to them sit on a red tablecloth.
The amount of Vitamin C in hot chilies surpasses that of tomatoes. (Image: Anita Nowack via Dreamstime)

Three points to note

1. Do not overeat hot chilies

Despite their benefits, overeating hot chilies can cause excessive internal heat. This can lead to oral ulcers, constipation, or hemorrhoids. If that happens, stop eating them until you recover.

2. Pair them well

When eating spicy foods, it’s a good idea to pair them with foods that have a cooler nature, such as duck, shrimp, bitter gourd, loofah, or green bean congee to balance the heat. Sweet and sour foods can relieve the pungency as sweetness covers the spicy taste and the acidity in sour foods neutralizes the alkaline capsaicin.

3. Four types of people should avoid or eat less spicy food

People with stomach ulcers, eye disease, hemorrhoids, or weak kidneys should refrain from eating spicy foods to avoid aggravating their condition. Those with frequent constipation and acne should also avoid spicy foods.

Translated by CC

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