by Kac Young Ph.D, ND, DCH
I once was a spectator at a Que Es Mas Macho Competition where men and women competed to see who could eat the hottest pepper and survive. Faces turned red, lips burned, foreheads broke out in beads of sweat, but those contestants stalwartly hung in consuming hot and hotter peppers until their ears nearly fell off their heads. One thing for sure is that they helped their hearts that day without even knowing it.
I’m not suggesting you sign up for a hot pepper eating contest, but based on research from the University of Cincinnati, capsaicin – which gives peppers and spices their fiery flavor – is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound that helps to prevent the formation of dangerous blood clots in the arteries.
“In follow-up studies, research found that capsaicin broke down blood fats before they could be converted into artery-clogging cholesterol. Plus, it relaxed arteries, cutting the risk in half of damaging blood pressure surges.”
If you haven’t already started your garden this summer, pop over to your local nursery and plant some peppers in your garden, on your deck, balcony or window sill. Start experimenting with fresh peppers in your dishes. If you’re a pepper wimp, begin slowly and work up to the taste, but you will reap huge benefits by adding peppers to your meals. Of course, you can buy them in your grocery store or local farmers market, but growing them is easy, inexpensive and fun. Pick a pepper and put it in the pot then watch your cholesterol float away.
The helpful peppers are habaneros, cayennes and jalapenos. All you need is 1/4 teaspoon of the dried spices, 1 teaspoon of a hot sauce or 1 tablespoon of fresh or pickled hot peppers daily.
Kick it up my friends and have a spicy heart-healthy summer. And don’t forget that anything that helps the health of your heart will be good for brain health too!