Like spicy foods… then you’ll love this new report on the health benefits of capsaicin. The same compound that gives cayennes, jalapenos, habaneros and other chili peppers their full, zesty flavor may also be supplying some heart healthy benefits as well, according to new research. Capsaicin has long held an acknowledged role in the treatment of pain, and thanks to the current study, science knows more about how this substance works to help the heart stay healthy.
Science has been looking at capsaicin’s benefits, and you probably recognize the name as a treatment for the pain that comes from arthritis, as well as neuropathy pain or the itch of psoriasis. Capsaicin works by encouraging the body to make endorphins that reduce our perception of pain.
The Chinese team examined how capsaicinoids (the technical name for capsaicin and compounds like it) worked on hamsters blood vessels. The team fed the subject hamsters diets that were high in cholesterol (sound familiar?) and spiced the foods for some of the animals with different levels of capsaicinoids.
The hamsters that were fed any level of capsaicinoids had lower cholesterol levels, especially when it came to LDL (bad) cholesterol. What’s more, they had less plaque build up in their arteries in comparison to the group of hamsters that did not receive capsaicinoids. In fact, the substances were shown to be beneficial in improving a whole range of factors that are known to be related to heart and blood vessel health.
The study researchers hope that the outcome of the research adds to the understanding of how spicy foods could work to make our hearts healthier.
The take home message is that spicy foods like these can be a good supplement for those who enjoy the flavor anyway. Something that tastes good, and is good for you.
There has also been research suggesting capsaicin might be helpful in protecting against prostate cancer, that it might be able to kill off the cells. At least that’s how it worked in test tubes, where researchers found a relationship between capsaicin and increased cell death. There is also work that finds those who eat large volumes of chili peppers have less prostate cancer. It may be that the natural carotenoids and flavonoids in these foods that are known to fight free radicals in the system, are the reason for less prostate cancer. No one can say for now, nor does it mean that hot peppers cure this form of cancer.
And then there’s this…
Spicy foods can improve metabolism. Research has discovered that foods spiced with turmeric, paprika, rosemary, oregano, cinnamon and garlic powder brought down both triglyceride levels and insulin after a 1,200 calorie meal eaten by overweight but otherwise healthy men. It may be that the antioxidants naturally a part of the spices help fight oxidative stress, and thus the risk of chronic conditions. The amount of spice used in the study was one, large dose, 14 g, the antioxidant equal of five ounces of red wine or a 1.4 ounce serving of dark, delicious chocolate.
So, if you like the burn of these foods, enjoy them in moderation, as part of your overall healthy eating plan.
And yet, a caution. Take the warnings about spicy foods seriously. Pure capsaicin extract has a rating of over 15 million Scoville units (a measure of capsaicin present) and should be used in moderation, and on the direct instruction of a physician. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after applying so you don’t risk getting any in your eyes. It may take up to two weeks before the health benefits of capsaicin on pain begin to be noticed.
Source by Kirsten Whittaker