Happy Cinco de Mayo! If you’re celebrating Mexican-style today, don’t forget the peppers. Jalapeno, cayenne and habanero peppers don’t just spice up a meal; they also offer a number of health benefits. Capsaicin, the substance in hot peppers that causes your body to heat up, helps fight LDL, or bad cholesterol; has been shown to kill cancer cells in lab animals; and the heat it generates in your body when you take a bite of hot pepper makes you expend extra energy, contributing to weight loss. But if you want to lose a few pounds (or get other health benefits) without heating up your taste buds, there’s good news: A new study by at the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition shows that even milder peppers can have the same effect.
While only hot peppers contain capsaicin, the UCLA study shows that milder peppers “make a non-burning version of capsaicin called dihydrocapsiate (DCT) that could have the benefits of peppers without the pungency,” according to ScienceDaily.
Peppers are usually some of the plants that grow best in our garden each year — last year, we still had jalapenos and cayenne peppers on the vines in late November! But since I –and most children – can’t take the heat of the hottest peppers, it’s nice to know that we can get the same health benefits without gasping for a glass of milk after every bite.
Peppers, anyone? Are you growing any hot or mild ones this year? How do you like to eat them?