Capsaicin is a chemical compound that is found most commonly in chili peppers. In the plant world, capsaicin in chili peppers is used as a natural defense against herbivores, but of course humans are just too stubborn and decided to go ahead and eat the chilli peppers anyway and we’re lucky that they did. This hot compound just so happens to have a number of health benefits that we are still discovering to this day.
Capsaicin is what gives a chili peppers its heat and each kind of chili pepper has a different amount of capsaicin. It is generally believed that the hotter a pepper is the more Capsaicin it contains. The level of heat is measured in Scoville units and whatever you do, don’t go around drinking the pure capsaicin extract, because coming in at around 16 million Scoville units, it will probably kill you. For comparison, a typical Jalapeño pepper comes in at around only 3,000 to 10,000 Scoville units.
Why would I want to burn myself?
Helps Fat Loss
You might have seen that a number of fat burners these days contain Capsaicin, especially the tropical kind. There’s a good reason for this. Studies have shown that ingesting Capsaicin has a positive effect on our basal metabolic rate. This means that your body’s metabolism has increased and you are now burning more calories. The sweating helps too! You may have also noticed that when you eat spicy food, you eat considerably less as compared to your normal foods. This is because, Capsaicin, is also known to be a very effective appetite suppressant, another reason why it’s a great fat burning tool.
Capsaicin, has also shown to be quite effective against cancer. Although not proven (is it ever?), various studies have shown that consuming chili peppers on a regular basis shrunk tumors related to prostate cancer, as well as, lung and pancreatic cancer, without targeting any other non-cancerous cells. This means that is works specifically against cancer cells. It may never be proven, but its cancer fighting properties are good enough reason to add some heat in to your daily diet.
Capsaicin is found to inhibit a substance (substance P) that is associated with inflammation. This makes it an effective tool against inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and psoriasis. You can either use a topical capsaicin extract on the problem areas or just add some hot peppers in to your diet. The hotter the better, just make sure you can handle it!
It’s really easy to add some heat in to your diet. You can either stir-fry some chilies with your other veggies and proteins, use some dried pepper as a dry rub for meat or even add it at the end as a hot sauce. You can’t go wrong. If you are not used to eating spicy foods, start gradually with the less spicy peppers and work your way up, otherwise, it may cause an upset stomach.