Health Benefits of Chili, Chili Peppers, and Chili Powder

If you enjoy spicy foods, then there’s a good chance that you’ve come across chili at least once in your life. Edible at every stage — from the seed to the full-grown chili pepper — this spicy vegetable is easy to grow and abundant all over the world. Chilis are especially popular in Mexican and Asian cuisine, but can be added to almost any food to add a pop of flavor and spice. 

Health Benefits

Chili peppers and chili powder are often used to flavor foods, while especially spicy chilis may be reserved for dares. But hidden behind the spicy flavor of this vegetable is an array of health benefits you should know about. Here are just a few of the benefits you may enjoy when eating chilis. 

Reduce Duration of Sickness

If you’re the type of person who drinks orange juice when you’re sick, then you already know the importance of Vitamin C when it comes to boosting your immune system. 

Studies show that, while Vitamin C can’t completely prevent the common cold, taking more Vitamin C when you’re sick can reduce the amount of time your sickness lasts. Serving for serving, chilis are loaded with even more Vitamin C than oranges. So, if orange juice isn’t your thing, you can feel good about snacking on chilis when you’re sick instead. 

Prevent Heart Disease

Because spicy food is often associated with heartburn, you may worry about eating chili peppers if you have problems with your heart. But heartburn is a bit of a misnomer and actually has nothing to do with your heart.

In fact, when it comes to preventing heart disease, spicy foods may be exactly what your body needs. Studies show that the capsaicin in hot peppers can reduce inflammation and decrease the chances of heart disease. 

Promote Weight Loss

If you’re one of the many people in the world with obesity, you may be interested to know that chili peppers are thought to stimulate weight loss.

Studies show that the capsaicin in chili peppers can reduce appetite. Other studies show that chili peppers can increase metabolism and help you burn off the calories you do eat. While eating chili peppers by themselves may not lead to a significant change in your weight, using them in conjunction with your doctor-approved weight loss plan may help you see results more quickly. 

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Nutrition

Chili peppers aren’t just loaded with spice; they’re also loaded with nutrients. Other major nutrients you’ll find in chili peppers and chili powder include: 

  • Vitamin A
  • Iron
  • Dietary Fiber

Nutrients per Serving

Half a cup of canned green chili peppers without seeds includes:

  • Calories: 14
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Sodium: 798 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 3 g
  • Protein: 1 g

Things to Look Out For

Chili peppers aren’t right for everyone. For some people, especially people with irritable bowel syndrome, chilis can cause diarrhea and rectal pain. To avoid negative side effects from chilis, limit your chili intake to half a cup or less at a time, and choose mild chilis rather than hot chilis.

How to Prepare Chili Peppers and Chili Powder

One of the greatest things about chili peppers is how easy they are to add into your diet. You don’t have to love spicy foods to start adding chili into the foods you eat. Over time, you may even develop more of a tolerance for the spiciness of chili peppers. 

Some ideas for adding chili peppers to foods you already love include: 

  • Putting sliced chili peppers on a burger
  • Adding raw chili peppers to a sub sandwich
  • Making spicy chile con carne with cooked chili peppers
  • Dicing chili peppers and mixing them into mac & cheese
  • Stirring chili pepper ringlets into a salad

Chili powder significantly increases the number of ways you can use chili. Chili powder can be:

  • Used to season meat
  • Sprinkled into pasta sauce
  • Cooked with ground meat for tacos or fajitas
  • Sprinkled onto vegetables to give them a spicy flair
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 02, 2020

Sources

SOURCES: 

About GERD: “Heartburn: Nothing to Do with the Heart.” 

American Journal of Gastroenterology: “Chili pepper and rectal hyperalgesia in irritable bowel syndrome.”

Appetite: “Could capsaicinoids help to support weight management? A systematic review and meta-analysis of energy intake data.”

Cochrane Database System Reviews: “Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology: “Effects of red-pepper diet on energy metabolism in men.” 

Mayo Clinic: “Mayo Clinic Minute: Capsaicin’s connection to heart health.

RHS: “Chili Pepper.” 

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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