As our readers surely know, at The Natural Shopper we’re committed to providing our customers with products we firmly believe will be beneficial to their wellbeing.
As more people take vitamin supplements in an effort to stave off many common ailments and illnesses, I think it’s fair to say that we shouldn’t just depend on our 2 capsules of vitamins per day and expect them to compensate for all of the other toxins we feed into our body.
So up springs the term “eat healthy” as the solution to all our problems. Well that’s great, but as many of us know in the real world, it isn’t always possible to avoid fast foods and processed foods 100% of the time. Plus, they sometimes taste good! Who’s going to give up their love for deep fried chicken, or hotdogs, in their quest to live longer and healthier? – well not everyone, that’s for sure.
So the policy should be to treat food in the same way as our royal jelly supplements and to introduce daily “additives” into our diet that we know are good for us, and use them in quantities that can help offset the harm caused by the ingestion of processed foods. It’s kinda like a delicate balancing act, you shouldn’t have to cut out ‘bad for you’ foods altogether, you just need to introduce sufficient ‘good for you’ foods to try and create the right balance.
When we’re talking foods however we’re having to keep a close eye on quantity, as measured in calorific terms. If you could go out and eat a Big Mac, then counter the negative affect by consuming a couple pounds of fresh fruit and veggies, that would tip you well over the edge in terms of calorie intake, and you’d suffer from unwanted weight gain. So we need to look into the foods that give us some form of “accelerated” benefit, or “super foods” as they’re sometimes called.
Also, we need to offset specific items such as sodium, which is generally a large and unwanted component of processed foods. So our super-foods need to be nutrient rich and low in sodium, fat, cholesterol and saturated fats. Also, and still on the issue of sodium intake, what if we could find a super-food which added flavor to our cooking to offset the need for added salt seasoning? Well this super-food does exist, and chefs and health food practitioners around the world are starting to incorporate this more and more into their cooking regimen, the item is “capsaicin” as found in hot chile peppers.
Hot chiles are becoming widely used in professional kitchens for removing blandness from foods, as a replacement for sodium . Chile peppers can give a real kick to many different types of foods and scientific studies are now finding many health benefits can be derived from eating the spicy chile (or often spelled ‘chili) peppers. The health component of chiles is capsaicin, and it’s also the heat component. It is found on the inside of the chile pepper in the white membrane.
Nutritionally it is comprised of a number of components which include vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene and other potent antioxidants. Hot peppers are low in fat, low in calories, and low in cholesterol. There are several popular pain relieving supplements on the market featuring capsaicin extract, which are widely thought to be very effective in relieving joint and muscle pains. Capsaicin is also shown to stimulate stomach secretions aiding digestion, and scientific studies are now showing that capsaicin may well assist in healing stomach tissues, whereas it was once thought to cause ulcers.
If you’re not sure what we’re talking about when we say “chile peppers”, then some of the more widely available and popular ones are –
Habanaro – small yellow/red pepper, with higher heat rating
Jalapeno – the ever popular ingredient in Tex-Mex food, can vary greatly in heat level
Poblano – Wonderfully flavorful with lower heat
Thai Pepper – red, small and packs a potent heat punch
Serrano – smaller green pepper with medium heat
And there are literally hundreds more to choose from.
We know a lot of our customers take royal jelly products and bee pollen in particular, for their appetite suppressing properties. Well recent research published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that capsaicin also acts as an appetite suppressant, both during the meal in which the peppers were consumed and also in the hours following the meal.
Scientists have also discovered that the capsaicin in spicy foods kills cancer cells. The capsaicin causes cancer cell death by attacking mitochondria – which are the energy force within the harmful cells. This raises incredible possibilities in finding treatments for cancer.
The study, conducted at the prestigious Nottingham University, was featured in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. It showed that the family of molecules to which capsaicin belongs, the vanilloids, bind to proteins in the cancer cell mitochondria to trigger apoptosis, or cell death, without harming surrounding healthy cells. Lead researcher Dr Timothy Bates said: “As these compounds attack the very heart of the tumour cells, we believe that we have in effect discovered a fundamental ‘Achilles heel’ for all cancers”.
He said a dose of capsaicin that could cause a cancer cell to enter apoptosis, would not have the same effect on a normal cell. Capsaicin was tested on cultures of human lung cancer cells and on pancreatic cancers. In the same research, Dr Bates said: “Capsaicin, for example, is already found in treatments for muscle strain and psoriasis – which raises the question of whether an adapted topical treatment could be used to treat certain types of skin cancer. It’s also possible that cancer patients or those at risk of developing cancer could be advised to eat a diet which is richer in spicy foods to help treat or prevent the disease.”
So we’re starting to see some real evidence in support of the hot chile pepper in the field of medical research, and many of us who’ve consumed chiles in our diets for many years can already attest to their many health benefits.
And there’s other research which has yet to be further substantiated which suggests that capsaicin from hot sauces and chili peppers may reduce high blood pressure, increasing your metabolism, be effective as a pain reducer, reduce cholesterol and much more.
Obviously there are some practical issues. Mild peppers like the red, yellow, green bell peppers are obviously very nutritious and high in vitamins etc. But the benefits we’re talking about here come from the specific component “capsaicin”, which is also the heat component. So the more heat, the more capsaicin and the more potential benefit. But what if you don’t like the heat from chiles? Well, I don’t think you have many options. There are some capsaicin supplements available, but the simple fact is that they’ll bypass the mouth and head straight for the stomach. So you won’t have the mouth burn but if they truly do contain capsaicin in sufficient quantity to be useful to you, then you’re going to feel a digestive system impact that you might not be conditioned for.
My advice would be to start to condition your system and build a natural tolerance to the heat of the stronger chile peppers. This can be done surprisingly quickly in fact, perhaps in a matter of only a couple of weeks.
Start off incorporating some jalapenos into your diet, then move up to the serrano and eventually the habanero. Once you’ve mastered the habenero you can go on the the Bhut Jolokia which is an extremely hot pepper, high in capsaicin.
Combining these peppers with other foods, such as a sauce for example, will diminish the amount of heat that your mouth feels, but it won’t diminish your capsaicin intake. So try some sauce recipes and incorporate hot peppers into the recipe. A basic marinara sauce comes alive with the addition of a couple habanaros! You’d be surprised at just how flavorful and versatile the hotter peppers really are.
Personally I’ve been what’s kindly termed a “chilehead” for many years, I have a complete passion for researching, growing, and eating hot chiles since I was in my early 20’s. More recently I’ve developed several bottled sauces which feature the Habanero and the Bhut Jolokia (Ghost Chile) combined with powerful antioxidants like pineapple, pears, apple cider vinegar, mango and other fruits.
I’m slowly making these hot sauces available to the public as I get FDA regulations and other food handling processes and licenses in place. My first offering is a bottled hot sauce containing the Bhut Jolokia pepper with pears, applesauce and apple cider vinegar. It’s the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted, with a good kick of heat and packed with capsaicin.
If you want me to pass along a few sauce recipes which I’ve developed over the years, that are high in capsaicin and other beneficial nutrients, then just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to do so.
Otherwise, look out for my new hot sauce making its appearance on this website in a few days or so! Bookmark this page or follow us on Facebook and I’ll post an update as soon as it’s released.
Thanks for reading
PS – unless you’re a pro, try to avoid bottled hot sauces containing “chile extract” or “capsaicin extract”, it’s generally unpleasant and way too hot for most.