Jalapeños are popular in the United States (and around the world) largely because of their moderate level of heat and their relatively mild flavor. But did you know that there’s a lot to be said for jalapeño nutrition as well? These Mexican peppers contain significant amounts of several nutrients that help to improve your health, along with giving your nachos and salsa a tasty spark. Let’s break down the many jalapeño benefits.
They help to fight free radicals
Jalapeños are rich in vitamin C with even a small jalapeño containing as much as 17 mg. That one pepper provides almost 20 percent of what an adult man needs and 23 percent of what an adult woman needs per day. Jalapeños contain more vitamin C than equivalent servings of raw broccoli and oranges.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects your body’s cells from free radicals. Unless they are neutralized, free radicals will damage cells and cause inflammation. Jalapeño peppers also contain flavonoids, which are phytochemicals that function as antioxidants. Capsaicin is the compound that is responsible for the heat of jalapeños; it’s an antioxidant as well.
They stimulate weight loss
Researchers have found that capsaicin is an effective weight loss aid that works by suppressing appetite. A study from 2014 found that subjects who consumed capsaicin were more likely to feel full and thus less likely to overeat when compared to a control group. In addition to their ability to improve feelings of satiety, they also increase the rate at which our bodies burn calories. Jalapeños do this by raising body temperature thus making you burn more calories, even in a resting state.
In addition to all that, the peppers themselves are very low in calories with less than a gram each of fat and carbohydrates in each pepper.
They boost your immune system
Their high vitamin C content makes jalapeños an excellent tool in the fight against bacterial and viral infections. Vitamin C may cause the immune system to produce more white blood cells, which are how the body defends itself against illness.
They fight cancer
Capsaicin is known to have certain cancer-fighting benefits. They fight cancer by inducing apoptosis in human cancer cells. Apoptosis is the cell’s self-destruct mechanism; it means that capsaicin causes them to commit suicide. Capsaicin has been shown to do this consistently several different types of cancers, including skin and prostate cancers.
Jalapeños also contain another chemical called resiniferatoxin, which is believed to have similar effects on cancer.
They support healthy bones and teeth
Jalapeños are a good source of vitamin A, with a single pepper providing 17 percent of the recommended daily allowance for men and 22 percent for women. Jalapeños have more of this vitamin when compared to similar quantities of raw broccoli and raw strawberries. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that supports healthy vision and is important for the maintenance of skin, bone and other tissues. Studies on mice with diabetes have shown that vitamin A can help to return their blood sugar to normal levels.
Jalapeños also contain more vitamin K than other chili pepper varieties. A 100 g serving of jalapeños contains almost four times the vitamin K found in the same quantity of red bell peppers. Vitamin K helps to increase bone mineral density and decrease fracture rates among people with osteoporosis.