Spice Up Your Health

September 26, 2011

This hot hot vegetable can kick up the flavor and spiciness of your meals as well as providing a whole host of health benefits. Find out what it is here

What veggie can both stimulate and curb your appetite, provide vitamins, ease aches and pains, clear your sinuses, boost your metabolism, and more? Well if you can guess the official New Mexico state vegetable… you’re in luck – it’s the chili pepper.

According to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, New Mexico has the most acreage devoted to chilies and Southern New Mexico is number one in terms of the different types of chilies produced and researched. The state was also named the chili capital of the world in 2006.

So what’s so great about chili peppers? Well according to New Mexico State University Regents Professor of Horticulture Paul Bosland, director of NMSU's Chile Pepper Institute, and Danise Coon, peppers help your body in many ways. 

One red chili pepper a day provides 100 percent of vitamin A you need and one green chili pepper has more vitamin C than six oranges! Chilies are also high in B vitamins, potassium, magnesium and iron- and because they are commonly eaten with beans can help the uptake of iron found in the beans because of the high vitamin C content. 

What else is great about chilies? Capsaicin, the active and spicy component in chilies. A recent study from UCLA, indicates that capsaicin kills prostrate cancer cells, and other studies have shown that capsaicin helps blood vessels relax, potentially helping to lower blood pressure. Another study demonstrated that rats fed capsaicin had less body fat and accumulated smaller fat molecules within fat cells and gained less weight than the control group. And you may have seen capsaicin products in the drug store, because capsaicin is an ingredient used in creams for arthritis, and in products geared towards reliving sore and aching muscles.

Research has also demonstrated that chilies can help lower cholesterol and help burn calories by increasing temperature thereby, speeding up the metabolism, as well as increasing the effectiveness of the body's immune system. Purdue University even found chilies to curb appetite.

It’s easy to spice up your meals, add a bit of chili to salsa with lunch and chicken or fish, or even over vegetables, chili pepper can be added to almost anything you eat, spicing up our meals with a healthy kick!