If you know anyone unfortunate enough to have developed a stomach ulcer or have seen movies with characters dealing with them, the first thing that usually comes to mind is someone chugging milk or something like Pepto Bismol. We immediately feel bad for them because they are going to be put on some sort of bland, tasteless diet because everyone knows that spicy food causes and irritates ulcers, right? Wrong! Turns out that that really isn’t the case at all. Those ulcers are caused by stress, alcohol, smoking, too many pain medications and a list of other things, but not spicy food. The surprising truth is that the capsaicin in jalapeño and other types of peppers that adds the hot, spicy flavor to so many of our favorite foods may actually protect us from developing those ulcers!

Surprised? You’re in good company. Most people know how much they love the spicy taste but have no clue about the health benefits of jalapeño peppers.

Jalapeños originate from Mexico and that is still where the vast majority of them are grown, although they are cultivated in the southwestern part of the U.S., mostly in, California, New Mexico and Texas. The spicy heat of peppers that comes from their level of capsaicin actually has its own scale, named after the man who invented it, Wilbur L. Scoville. The Scoville Scale measures the “hotness” of peppers, from the sweet bell pepper, with no heat at all, to the super-hot Dragon’s Breath, which knocked the Red Savina habanero off the top spot and has more heat than you even want to think about. The popular poblano is rated mild and the jalapeño is a step up to medium.

More to the Jalapeño Than Spicy Taste

Jalapeño peppers come in red and green, with the majority picked and eaten when they are still green. The redder the pepper, the higher the concentration of capsaicin. This means more heat, and it also means more health benefits. Besides capsaicin, jalapeños contain vitamins C, B6, A and K, as well as folate and manganese.

Jalapeño peppers can enhance the flavors of dishes. For example, rehydrated dried whole pepper pods can be chopped or blended into a paste or sauce. Pepper flakes can be sprinkled on pizza, pasta, grilled meats, or scrambled eggs for added heat and Jalapeño flavor. Chili powder products can elevate the flavor of barbecue, tacos, and other Tex-Mex or Mexican-inspired dishes.

You are not likely to hear Weight Watchers recommending that you frequent your local Mexican restaurant, but there are studies that suggest that spicy peppers, like jalapeños, help with weight loss. It is believed that they boost the metabolism, which, in turn, accelerates the body’s fat burning process. Capsaicin has been sold as a supplement in capsule form, but reaping the benefits while indulging in hot sauce would seem to be far more fun!

Besides their ability to protect against ulcers by helping to minimize the inflammation in the stomach caused by the overuse of alcohol and pain relievers, jalapeños have traditionally been used to counteract the bacteria that causes food poisoning. More recently, research is being done investigating the compounds in these spicy peppers that are believed to have the potential to aid in the prevention of common but serious infections, like strep throat and STDs (sexually transmitted diseases).

The capsaicin in jalapeños has been shown to stabilize the spike in blood sugar levels after eating, which has significant implications for diabetics. There have also been promising studies done on animals that indicate this powerful substance can lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Without human testing it is too early to speculate on what this may mean for improving heart health, but it is certainly promising.

So, what are the hot dishes with potential health benefits? Tacos, a famous Mexican food, provide a canvas for spiciness, with options like sliced Jalapeños, hot sauce, or spicy salsa to intensify flavors while adding vitamins and antioxidants.  

Spicy ramen can be elevated with a dash of chili oil or hot sauce, potentially boosting metabolism. On the other hand, Sichuan Mapo Tofu, a Chinese specialty, includes minced meat, tofu, and a sauce rich in Sichuan peppercorns and chili bean paste, potentially offering anti-inflammatory properties.  

Vindaloo, an Indian curry, is famed for its intense heat, achieved through chili peppers and spices that may support digestion. Chili recipes can be made spicier with chopped Jalapeños, hot chili powder, or hot sauce, all containing capsaicin, known for its potential metabolism-boosting and pain-relief properties.  

Sushi rolls can be made spicy by combining wasabi and Sriracha sauce with soy sauce, offering a delightful way to incorporate antioxidants and potential anti-inflammatory benefits. Thai Tom Yum Soup offers a sour and spicy profile, incorporating ingredients like lemongrass, lime leaves, and chili peppers, which may contribute to immune system support and overall health.  

It’s always been said that good things come in small packages. Whether we are talking about delicious food or health benefits, it would seem that this is especially true of the little jalapeño pepper! You can try out Meal Prep Delivery If you want an organic healthy meal brought to your place.

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