Chili plant is a small, perennial shrub with woody stem, growing up to a meter in height. It is native to Central American region where it employed as one the chief spice ingredients in Mexican cuisine for centuries. Later, it was introduced to the rest of the world by Spanish and Portuguese explorers during the 16th and 17th centuries. Today chili pepper is grown widely in many parts of the world as an important commercial crop. Chillies have a wonderful impact on cardiovascular functioning.
Red chilli peppers, such as cayenne, have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and platelet aggregation, while increasing the body’s ability to dissolve fibrin, a substance integral to the formation of blood clots. Spicing your meals with chilli peppers may also protect the fats in your blood from damage by free radicals—a first step in the development of atherosclerosis. In cultures where hot pepper is used liberally, the populations have a much lower rate of heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism. In 2006, a pilot study in Tasmania found people may sleep better if they eat chillies regularly and as quality of sleep is important for cardiovascular health, this is also good news. It must also be great news to the millions of insomniacs and frequent flyers around the world! Due possibly to the high level of anti-oxidants found in chillies, they have also been proven to help fight bowel cancer and prostate cancer.
A study printed in “Cancer Research” magazine in March 2006 claims capsaicin pepper extract actually causes human prostate cancer cells to undergo cell death. Chillies have been used as a medicinal plant since pre-Colombian times. Today, chillies are one of the most widely used of all natural remedies. It is these reasons why the indigenous peoples of the Americas started to domesticate chillies all those years ago. Chillies are excellent for your immune system because they are rich in both vitamin A (said to be the anti-infection vitamin) and vitamin C.
Health benefits of chili peppers
Chili pepper contains an impressive list of plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties.
Chilies contain health benefiting an alkaloid compound in them, capsaicin, which gives them strong spicy pungent character. Early laboratory studies on experimental mammals suggest that capsaicin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties. It also found to reduce LDL cholesterol levels in obese individuals.
Fresh chili peppers, red and green, are rich source of vitamin-C. 100 g fresh chilies provide about 143.7 µg or about 240% of RDA. Vitamin C is a potent water-soluble antioxidant. It is required for the collagen synthesis inside the human body. Collagen is one of the main structural protein required for maintaining the integrity of blood vessels, skin, organs, and bones. Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps protect from scurvy, develop resistance against infectious agents (boosts immunity), and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.
Chilies carry a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
Chilies are also good in B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that human body requires them from external sources to replenish.
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