Spice up your meals and boost your vitamin and mineral intake by including chiles! Considered a superfood, chiles are Members of the capsicum family. They come in a variety of peppers with different tastes and levels of spice including everything from the ubiquitous bell pepper to the scorching hot scotch bonnet. How spicy a pepper is depends on the amount of capsaicin they contain and this powerful compound brings the heat in terms of flavor and health benefits! Acting as a powerful antioxidant, capsaicin protects our cells from becoming damaged by harmful free radicals that develop in our bodies in response to certain foods we eat, environmental factors, and when fighting off infections and pathogens. Capsaicin may also make mucus thinner and help move it out of the lungs. It is also thought to strengthen lung tissues and help to prevent or treat emphysema. Our metabolism, the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy needed for everything from breathing and pumping blood throughout the body to repairing cells, is also given a boost by including capsaicin in your diet. These peppers pack a powerful nutrition punch in terms of vitamin and mineral content. One fresh medium sized green chile pepper has twice as much Vitamin C as a small orange, boosting their antioxidant activity even further. Other beneficial nutrients include:
- Potassium: a mineral involved in blood pressure regulation
- Vitamin K: essential for proper blood clotting, and healthy bones and kidneys
- Vitamin A: red chili peppers are high in beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A aids in maintaining vision health.
The variety of chiles, including ancho, bell pepper, cayenne, cherry, habanero, jalapeno, paprika, pimiento, scotch bonnet, and serrano, can be enjoyed raw, cooked in a variety of ways, or dried and ground into sauces or sprinkled into dishes for a spicy kick!
How do you like to include chiles into your recipes?