Capsaicin is the phytonutrient that makes chili peppers hot.
Health Benefits of Capsaicin
It stimulates the release of endorphins – hormones that block pain and enhance mood. It also helps to flush out the respiratory system by causing the body to release fluid that washes away mucus.
Research shows this spicy nutrient may help to decrease appetite and increase satiety, boosting weight loss efforts.
It may also be useful in cancer prevention. Research in animals shows capsaicin causes both prostate and liver cancer cells to self destruct, a process known as apoptosis.
Topically, capsaicin relieves pain by “burning out” certain nerve cells, making them incapable of transmitting pain signals.
This powerful compound is being studied for its effects on arthritis, cystitis, HIV and diabetic neuropathy.
Being Careful with Capsaicin
Because capsaicin is located in the soft, seed-bearing ribs inside chili peppers, the capsaicin (and the heat) that ends up in a recipe can be decreased by removing some or all of the ribs and seeds when you prepare the chilies.