Enjoy the Health Benefits of Hot & Spicy Foods

By Paula Detwiller

Love hot peppers

Can you imagine sushi without wasabi? Texas chili without cayenne? Kung Pao Chicken without the “pow”?

Hot, spicy foods tickle our taste buds and make mealtime exciting. They can also be good for our health, according to many studies.

As we observe International Hot & Spicy Food Day on January 16, we tip our hat to the healthy ingredients in our favorite spicy foods.

  1. Hot chili peppers. Whether it’s Thai curry, Mexican salsa, or Italian puttanesca sauce, hot chili peppers provide the fire, thanks to a chemical compound called capsaisin (pronounced cap-SAY-sin). Capsaisin has been shown to speed up metabolism, reduce the damaging effects of LDL (“bad” cholesterol), and kill cancer cells in mice. Many believe it also stimulates the release of endorphins that can lift your mood. Ever experienced a hot-pepper high?One thing’s for sure: red chili peppers contain a large amount of Vitamin C, and all chilies are rich in B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and iron. Recent studies even suggest that, rather than contributing to stomach ulcers as previously believed, hot chili peppers may actually protect your stomach lining!
  2. Ginger. While it doesn’t have the heat of a chili pepper, ginger is pungent and adds a nice zing to stir fry and other dishes. It’s been used for centuries to calm the gastrointestinal system, and helps reduce morning sickness in pregnant women. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols that are believed to reduce arthritis pain, protect against colorectal cancer, kill ovarian cancer cells, and boost the immune system.
  3. Wasabi. That little green mound alongside your nigiri or sashimi may have health benefits beyond clearing your sinuses. Wasabi, a green root vegetable, contains natural chemicals called isothiocyanates that appear to interfere with the formation of cancer cells. These same chemicals also help to reduce inflammation and inhibit the clumping of blood platelets, pointing to a possible reduction in the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Find Your “Hot & Spicy” at the Delray GreenMarket

Roadrunner Chile

  • Fresh chili peppers from our produce vendors
  • Dried peppers and spices at the World Flavors Spices & Tea booth…returning soon!
  • Captain Redbeard hot sauces, seasonings and rubs
  • Santa Fe-style chile salsas and sauces from the Roadrunner Chile Co.
  • Spicy-sweet jellies from Two Friends Pepper Jelly
  • Plenty of hot stuff at our 16th Annual Chili Cook-off, Saturday February 16.  SAVE THE DATE!
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