Heart Disease is among the top killers of people in developed countries. In the U.K. and the U.S., millions die every year from heart related illnesses. A great many medications have been developed to try to treat heart disease, and research into traditional, natural methods of avoiding this “silent killer” has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years.
One of the subjects of this research has been the chili pepper. Long a culinary ingredient because of its spicy flavour, it turns out that the chili pepper might belong in your medicine cabinet as much as it belongs in your spice rack- several compounds in these peppers can do wonders for the cardiovascular system. One in particular, capsicum, has been heavily studied and established as benefiting the heart and blood vessels.
How Chile Peppers Benefit the Heart:
- They dilate blood vessels.
This helps get blood where it needs to go. Not only is blood needed to transport oxygen, it needs to carry away waste, as well. In situations like angina, where people experience pain due to lack of blood flow, this dilation may help reduce complications.
- They detoxify the body.
Hot foods trigger the body to eliminate cellular waste through the sweat glands, and encourage circulation which helps remove waste to the bladder and colon. Getting rid of toxic materials benefits all of the body in the long run, especially the heart.
- They lower blood pressure.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, puts an extra strain on the heart. By relaxing blood vessels, chili peppers help decrease hypertension.
- They lower cholesterol.
Excess cholesterol can lead to hardening of the arteries, and arterial plaques. Hardened arteries can raise blood pressure, while plaques can block vessels completely. Lowering your cholesterol can save your life, in more ways than one!
- They are high in protective antioxidants, like vitamin A.
Beta carotene gives vegetables their red and orange colours, and is what the human body uses to produce vitamin A. This compound can help protect the heart from free radical damage, and other problems.
- They reduce inflammation.
Though they can temporarily cause localized inflammation, chili peppers actually reduce it in the long run. Unchecked inflammation in the body puts a strain on the heart and may contribute to heart disease, so reducing it whenever possible is important.
- They can help reduce obesity.
Obesity puts an added strain on the heart by forcing it to pump blood longer distances. By triggering weight loss, chili peppers help reduce this strain on the heart.
Chile peppers have more health benefits above and beyond their protection of the heart. Though this might seem like an impressive list of reasons to start using chili peppers already, the fact is that science is only just discovering all of the things that these peppers can do for us.