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Spice It up for a Healthy Heart

Posted May 06 2009 1:33pm
aAddiction to Chili by malias

Every member of my family is a huge fan of hot sauce. Our favorite meals are chili beans with tons of chili, spaghetti with hot tomato sauce, beans with hot sauce, shrimp with hot sauce, chicken with hot sauce, bread with hot sauce (this is my mom’s favorite) and anything else with hot sauce. I think my husband and my father-in-law can even eat ice-cream with hot sauce! We noticed that when we buy hot sauce it always says on the bottle that it is a heart healthy choice and I was always wondering what the health benefits of this concoction are. I know that it does not have any cholesterol and it’s very low in sodium but I knew that there must be something else behind it.
When it comes to hot sauce and hot peppers the most important word is capsaicin. This is the stuff that makes your mouth burn and your eyes water when you eat anything with hot peppers in it. This is also a compound that makes hot sauce especially healthy for your heart and for your entire body. So what does it do?

  1. The consumption of hot peppers lowers blood pressure by increasing peripheral circulation.
  2. Capsaicin can lower high cholesterol levels.
  3. Capsaicin together with vitamins A and C that are also abundant in hot peppers strengthen the walls of blood vessels and make them more elastic. This helps blood vessels to adjust better to differences in blood pressure.
  4. Hot peppers can aid in heart attack prevention by thinning your blood as they act as a mild anticoagulant (the same thing that Aspirin does to your blood).
  5. Capsaicin prevents clotting and hardening of arteries, a condition that leads to atherosclerosis.
  6. Hot peppers fight inflammation that was proven recently to be one of the allies of heart disease.
  7. Capsaicin acts as an antioxidant and protects the cells of the body from harmful molecules and free radicals.
  8. Hot peppers aid in weight loss and extra weight is linked to heart disease risks. It is also considered that capsaicin increases metabolism and helps you burn more calories.

A few other benefits of hot peppers that are not directly connected with heart health are the following:

  1. Capsaicin works as an appetite suppresser (there is no way you can eat that extra helping of spaghetti when your mouth is on fire) and decreases your calorie intake. According to the research at Canada’s Laval University, men who got an appetizer with hot sauce ate 200 fewer calories for lunch and later on during the day than men who did not.
  2. Hot stuff also helps you breathe better. No matter if you just have a slight congestion associated with the flu season or if you are suffering from asthma, emphysema or chronic bronchitis, a little bit of hot sauce will clear your nose and sinuses as well as get rid of the mucus and irritants in your air passages.
  3. Hot peppers fight depression by increasing endorphin production in your brain.
  4. Hot peppers are well-known pain relievers. They were used for centuries both externally (creams applied to the injured area) and internally to fight muscle pains, chronic pains of different origins and headaches.

I think that after I read and wrote about all these surprising benefits of hot sauce I will love it even more. It totally deserves an honorable place in my kitchen.

Keep it balanced!

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