The serrano pepper is a moderately hot pepper popular in Mexican cuisine. It is similar in shape to the jalapeño, but is narrower and shorter. And like jalapeños, along with their heat, serrano peppers provide a number of health benefits. Among those benefits are certain qualities like:
They are low in fat
On average, serrano peppers contain a total of 0.4 g of fat in each 100 g serving. The low fat content makes them an excellent addition to your diet if you are trying to reduce your fat intake.
And only 34 calories, with lots of vitamins and minerals…
As a low-calorie food, serrano peppers are excellent for weight loss.
Serrano peppers also contain a variety of health-boosting compounds, such as:
- Vitamins: Serrano peppers are a good source of vitamin A. You can get almost 20 percent of your daily recommended vitamin A intake from a 100 g serving. The vitamin A that you get from serrano peppers helps with the synthesis of red blood cells along with helping to support your immune system. Vitamin C is also important for the function of your immune system and 100 g of serranos provides about 74 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement. Vitamin B6 is another important vitamin that helps your body to produce neurotransmitters as well as to ensure that it metabolizes fat and protein properly.
- Minerals: A 100 g serving of serrano peppers provides 4 percent of your daily iron and 5 percent of your daily magnesium. Iron is important for making the red blood cells in your body that transport oxygen. Magnesium is important for neural function, muscle contraction and for the coagulation of blood among many other processes.
- Dietary fiber: Serrano peppers contain 3.7 g of dietary fiber per 100 g serving. Dietary fiber has health benefits that include controlling both blood sugar and cholesterol. Fiber binds with low-density lipoprotein thus preventing its absorption by your body; similarly, it slows your body’s absorption of sugar and this helps with the control of blood sugar levels.
Capsaicin is the compound responsible for the heat in hot peppers. It has numerous health benefits despite having no nutrients. While serranos are far from being the hottest peppers, they still offer an abundance of heat. The Scoville rating for these peppers is in the range between 10,000 and 23,000, which makes them up to 10 times hotter than a jalapeño (comparing the mildest jalapeño to the hottest serrano). The higher the Scoville rating, the hotter the pepper and the greater the concentration of capsaicin.
You can use serrano peppers to treat and prevent health conditions like:
- Heart disease: Capsaicin’s cholesterol-lowering benefits allow serrano peppers to be beneficial for heart health. Chile peppers also prevent the contraction of arteries, which restricts the flow of blood to the heart.
- Intestinal issues: Research has shown that capsaicin can help with the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. There is also evidence that it can help to kill the H. pylori bacteria that is a factor in stomach ulcers.
- Cancer: It’s believed capsaicin has the ability to treat cancer. Studies have shown that it is effective for fighting prostate and breast cancers in that it stops the spread of cancer and induces apoptosis in cancer cells, which means that it causes them to self-destruct.
There is also evidence that it can improve blood glucose by increasing insulin levels and help you to lose weight. Aside from the capsaicin, other cancer-fighting compounds in serrano peppers include fiber. Fiber can help to prevent colorectal cancer.