Jalapenos are one of the most common and well known peppers used in the United States, and even around the world. The health benefits of jalapenos, on the other hand, might not be as commonly known.
Whether you’re a fan of spicy foods or not, you’ve probably heard of jalapenos. Most people have a basic understanding of what they are, what they look like, and that they are a spicy pepper.
Jalapenos are high in healthy nutrients. They contain a variety of beneficial compounds like capsaicin and lutein with antioxidant properties.
Capsaicin is a compound that has been linked to a variety of health benefits.
Lutein is an antioxidant that can improve eye health and help protect your eyes from damage.
Jalapenos also contain a decent amount of fiber, which can help with digestion and weight management.
Additionally, jalapenos may help boost metabolism and reduce your risk of certain diseases.
We’ll dig into all the details of these things, and the many other benefits of eating jalapenos, below.
What are Jalapenos?
Jalapeno peppers are medium-sized chili peppers. They are typically green, but can also be red or yellow when they’re ripe.
These peppers are commonly used in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, and they’re known for their spicy flavor.
It’s the perfect pepper to add a little bit of heat to any meal or snack. Because of this, you’ll find them in a lot of different spicy foods in the US and in other cultures.
Jalapeno peppers are actually a fruit, like all peppers, and they’re part of the Capsicum annuum species.
Capsaicin is the chemical that makes jalapenos spicy. The majority of the heat in this pepper is concentrated in the seeds and the ribs of the pepper. The ribs are the light green or white strips on the inside of the pepper.
All peppers’ heat levels are measured by the Scoville Heat Scale, which goes from zero all the way to 2.2 million heat units. Jalapenos are actually pretty low on Scoville scale, falling in the range of 2,000 to 8,000 Scoville heat units.
Raw jalapeno peppers are the hottest. Thankfully, you can bring the heat down a few notches by removing the seeds and ribs before eating them.
Pickled jalapenos will be a little less spicy,. They do, however, still have a good amount of spice to them. Pickled jalapenos are good for someone who doesn’t have a high tolerance for spicy food.
Jalapeno Nutrition Facts
In addition to jalapeno’s health benefits, jalapenos are also very low in calories and practically fat free.
Total Fat: 0.1 g
Carbohydrates: 0.7 g
Fiber: 0.3 g
Protein: 0.2 g
Vitamin A: 8%
Vitamin C: 14%
Health Benefits of Jalapenos
Jalapeno peppers, like all fruits and vegetables, have a wide range of health benefits.
Like any other food, jalapenos need to be part of a well rounded diet in order to have the most beneficial effect on your health.
For example, people see that jalapenos help with reducing inflammation. So, they start eating jalapenos all the time. This practice, however, won’t be as effective if they are also always eating junk foods that are causing inflammation.
A well balanced diet is the best approach to get all the health benefits of food. But it’s cool to look at individual foods and see what kind of impact they make when we eat them.
When we strategically add them to our diet of other healthy and beneficial foods, we see the best results.
1. Rich in Vitamins and Minerals:
Jalapenos are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, potassium, and manganese.
These peppers are also a good source of fiber. We all, most likely, need more fiber in our diets!
While fiber isn’t considered an essential nutrient, it is key for a healthy digestive system. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels and keep hunger at bay.
2. High in Antioxidants:
Jalapenos contain several antioxidants, such as carotenoids and flavonoids. Both help protect the body’s cells from damage.
A powerful antioxidant can fight free radicals in the body that attack and destroy cells.
Free radicals damage our DNA and contribute to aging and chronic health problems.
Antioxidants also strengthen the immune system and improve overall health.
3. May Help Manage Weight:
The capsaicin found in jalapenos has been linked to increased metabolism and decreased hunger. Together, that can help with weight management.
Weight loss happens when a lot of different health factors come together at once.
Eating a bunch of hot peppers for weight loss is not recommended. However, adding jalapeno peppers to your diet, in moderation, can be beneficial for weight loss and maintenance.
4. May Reduce Inflammation:
Capsaicin has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation in the body.
Inflammation is the root cause of the chronic health issues we have in the US today.
Studies have seen a strong presence of anti-inflammatory effects of capsaicin in jalapenos.
If eating jalapeno peppers helps with stomach inflammation, I’m good with adding them to all my meals!
5. May Reduce High Blood Pressure:
New research has found consuming jalapenos, or foods containing capsaicin, may help lower blood pressure.
Reducing blood pressure helps prevent heart disease, improves heart health, and may help prevent a heart attack.
6. May Help Lower Cholesterol:
Studies have shown that consuming jalapenos may help reduce LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
High cholesterol is high lipid levels (fat) in the blood. This can lead to the narrowing of blood vessels, causing things like a heart attack or stroke.
7. May Help Prevent Cancer:
Capsaicin in jalapenos, and other spicy peppers, may help protect against certain types of cancer.
This is probably because of a combination of the health benefits of capsaicin, but specifically its antioxidants have strong anti-cancer properties and fight all types of cancer cells.
8. They Naturally Relieve Pain:
The capsaicin in jalapenos and other peppers is a great topical analgesic or natural pain reliever.
Capsaicin lotions or capsaicin cream is effective for unpleasant symptoms. For example, this cream could help with rheumatoid arthritis to sore muscles from a hard workout. I
t’s a great help for joint pain. Simply rub it on the painful area for relief.
Side Effects of Jalapenos
As with anything else, there are possible side effects to consider.
Eating too many jalapenos, or spicy chili peppers in general, can lead to gastrointestinal irritation and discomfort. More so, these peppers can leave an intense burning sensation in the throat and mouth.
Jalapenos can even cause stomach ulcers if eaten too often.
For some people, even eating jalapenos in moderation can cause these potential side effects.
Many people can’t eat one jalapeno without having undesirable side effects. Especially people with health conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome or other pre-existing digestive issues.
Even if you have no digestive issues, if you don’t eat spicy food regularly, you may experience a little discomfort until you get used to them.
To avoid these uncomfortable side effects, it is best to limit your intake of jalapenos. Enjoy them and their benefits in moderation.
Ways You Can Add Jalapenos to Your Diet
There are many ways you can add jalapeños to your diet. After all, you want to get all those good health benefits they offer; right?
You can eat them fresh and raw, fresh and cooked, or pickled.
If you can’t eat them due to health issues, you can still use them in other ways.
Try smashing them up and make a pain relief cream with coconut or olive oil.
You can also take capsaicinoid supplements that will give you many of the health benefits of jalapenos.
The average person in America consumes around 1.5 mg of capsaicinoids (compound is jalapenos) per day.
Try some of these ideas for adding jalapenos to food:
- Add fresh jalapenos to homemade bread
- Blend them into smoothies or add them to green juices
- Cook them into dishes like casseroles, omelets, and soups
- Add them to sandwiches or hamburgers
- Use them as a topping for salads, nachos, tacos, or soups
- Add them to homemade salsa or guacamole
- Add them to your water or other drinks like you would a slice of lemon or lime
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