Jalapenos are spicy little chili peppers commonly used in Mexican cooking, but also popular worldwide. They are a big component of many spicy dishes, they are also highly nutritious and have several health benefits.
Here are 7 of the lesser-known benefits of eating jalapenos:
1. High in Nutrients
Jalapenos are low in calories, and contain the following nutrients:
Calories – 4 Fiber – 0.4 grams Vitamin C – 10% of RDI Vitamin B6 – 4% of RDI Vitamin A – 2% of RDI Vitamin K – 2% of RDI Folate – 2% of RDI Manganese – 2% of RDI
One of the unique compounds in jalapenos is a compound called capsaicin, which is an alkaloid that gives peppers their spicy quality and is responsible for their many health benefits.
2. Could Help Weight Loss
Jalapenos could help you lose weight by boosting metabolism, increasing fat burning and reducing your appetite.
Studies have found that capsaicin and other compounds called capsaicinoids can boost metabolism by 4 to 5 % daily, which may make it easier to lose weight. It’s important to know that many of these studies looked at the effects of capsaicin or chili peppers generally, not specifically jalapenos.
3. May Fight Cancer
There have been lab studies that show capsaicin has strong cancer-preventing properties and can kill over 40 types of cancer cells without harming normal ones.
Capsaicin fights off cancer by stopping the growth and division of cancerous cells, slowing the forming of new blood vessels around cancer tumors, and helps to prevent the cancer to other areas of the body.
It’s worth noting that human studies haven’t shown the same benefits that have been found in lab studies, and some human studies have found that chili peppers are actually linked to a higher risk of cancer.
Dosage of capsaicin seem to matter – high doses appear to slow cancer spread, while low doses may encourage it.
4. Pain Relief
Capsaicin can be an effective pain reliever when used externally. It stops pain temporarily by blocking pain receptors in the area it is applied. A burning sensation may be felt at first, followed by numbness and lack of pain.
Lotions and patches containing capsaicin are often used to help pain relief in shingles, diabetic nerve pain, and chronic muscle and joint pain. In one study, older adults with rheumatoid arthritis experienced a 57% reduction in pain after applying capsaicin cream to their joints.
It’s currently unclear whether eating jalapenos or applying them to the skin has the same effect as capsaicin cream.
5. Stomach Ulcers
Stomach ulcers are common, and caused by a number of factors, including H. pylori bacteria, high levels of stomach acid, too many NSAID pain relievers, alcohol, smoking and stress.
Spicy foods like jalapenos have often been thought to cause or irritate stomach ulcers, but research has shown this to be false. The capsaicin in chili peppers could prevent the stomach from developing ulcers in the first place.
Chili peppers can also help reduce the damage caused to the stomach by NSAID painkillers and alcohol.
6. Helps Fight Infections
Compounds found in spicy chili peppers are powerful in slowing the growth of common foodborne bacteria and yeasts. Chili extracts have even been shown to stop cholera bacteria from producing toxins, which could reduce the impact of this foodborne disease.
New research suggests that capsaicin could help prevent other infections, such as strep throat, bacterial tooth decay and chlamydia. Again, it’s important to note that these studies used chili extracts, not whole jalapeno chilies, and they were tested in the lab instead of on humans.
7. Heart Health
Heart disease is a very common killer, and some of the biggest risk factors include diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Capsaicin could help keep your heart healthy by reducing the impact of these risk factors. It has been shown to lower cholesterol and lipid levels in animals, but no human studies have been conducted so far.
Other studies on animals suggest that capsaicin could help to lower blood pressure by making the blood vessels relax, but no research has been done on the effect on humans.
Eating 5 grams of chili peppers before a high-carb meal has been shown to stabilize blood sugars and prevent the sugar spikes that occur after meals.