Do you like your food a little spicy? How about adding a few crushed red pepper flakes to your next pizza or pasta dish? Their spicy taste will add a little kick – and they have surprising health benefits as well. What are the benefits of red pepper flakes?
What Are Red Pepper Flakes Made Of?
Red pepper flakes are made by drying and crushing red chili peppers – usually cayenne, but ancho and bell peppers are also used. Depending upon what pepper combination it’s made from, some versions of red pepper flakes are hotter than others. Most people think of them as pizza toppers, but they’re also a tasty addition to international cuisines including Caribbean, Latin, and most Asian dishes. You can find red pepper flakes in most grocery stores in the spice section.
Health Benefit #1: Carotenoid Power
Red peppers, particularly cayenne peppers, are an excellent source of beta-carotene. Some beta-carotene is converted by the body to Vitamin A, while the rest serves double duty as a potent antioxidant to protect cells from damage.
Vitamin A also has antioxidant benefits and helps to promote healthy vision – particularly night vision. A deficiency of vitamin A causes dry eyes, dry skin, and night blindness. It also plays a role in cell division and may reduce the risk of some cancers – although this hasn’t been definitely proven.
Health Benefit #2: Inflammation Fighter
Red peppers, particularly the super hot ones, are a good source of capsaicin – a natural inflammation fighter. Capsaicin exerts its anti-inflammatory effects by blocking a neuropeptide called substance P. Blocking this inflammation-producing peptide may reduce the pain and discomfort of some forms of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
Health Benefit #3: Prevents Blood Clots
The capsaicin in red pepper flakes reduces formation of blood clots by preventing platelets from clumping together. This may reduce the risk of peripheral blood clots, as well as the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Health Benefit #4: Weight Loss Aid
The capsaicin in red peppers modestly boosts metabolism – according to some studies. Their hot, spicy flavor also suppresses appetite which helps to reduce overall calorie consumption. They’re a good choice if you’re trying to lose weight.
Other Red Pepper Benefits
Ever eat something hot and spicy and experience a runny nose? Sprinkling red pepper flakes on food is a great way to open up clogged sinuses and relieve congestion. It may also prevent colds by boosting immunity due to its high vitamin A content.
What's the bottom line? Spice up your life as well as your health – by getting some red pepper flakes. Pile it on your next BBQ at Lee's!