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by inKin
22 Sep

The Best Superfoods A-Z: J is for Jalapenos

The jalapeno is best known as a constant in countless Mexican salsas and dishes, added for a little kick of spice. Jalapenos are the perfect balance of spicy and tasty, heating up dishes just the right amount while adding a pleasant flavor to accompany the heat.

This balance they provide is part of the reason they’ve become so popular around the world as opposed to some of their spicier counterparts, and even people who aren’t the biggest fans of spicy food can be found adding jalapenos (especially pickled ones) to their food. And the best part is that anyone eating them is getting several health benefits along with the heat without even realizing.

 

Benefits

1. Longer Life

Studies have shown that adding spicy peppers to your regular diet can help increase lifespan. This may seem a bit far fetched, but it turns out there’s a very practical reason behind this: chili peppers include the chemical compound capsaicin, which increases blood flow and helps prevent obesity by boosting your metabolism, which can help prevent certain long-term health issues. 

 

2. Stomach Health

It’s something all spicy food lovers have probably heard at least once in their life: “stop eating spicy food, it’s bad for your stomach!”. And though it is probably true that if you overdo it with the spice, you might face some stomach issues (is anything good if you overdo it?), more recent studies have shown that capsaicin can help reduce stomach inflammation, which is effective in preventing ulcers. And since jalapenos are full of antioxidants, they can help reduce stomach damage caused by NSAID pain relievers. 

 

3. Nutrition

Like most fruits and vegetables, jalapenos are relatively high in fiber, which is good for digestive health. But in addition to that, just one raw jalapeno contains 10% of our daily recommended intake of calcium, 4% of our daily recommended intake of calcium, and around 2% each of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K, folate, manganese, and vitamin A. So much goodness packed in one tiny pepper!

 

4. Fighting Infections

Capsaicin is actually a chemical irritant- that’s the reason the food it’s found in is spicy- and though this “irritating” quality it has may seem like a pleasant spiciness to us, for many foodborne bacterias and yeasts, it’s strong enough to slow their growth. This makes chili peppers very effective microbe killers, and it’s the reason that spices have a long history of acting as natural food preservatives.

 

5. Getting Fluids Out

Have you ever noticed your nose becomes runnier after eating something spicy? You may even start to sweat a little bit. I know that may seem gross, but both of those things are things that can help us out. If you ever have nasal congestion, you can eat a little bit of jalapeno for some relief. And sweating is a natural process which helps get water out of our system, preventing water retention, which takes the pressure off of our heart.

 

Fresh Salsa

Jalapenos are a must in fresh salsa. Not only because they add a nice kick, but because the actual taste the peppers provide mixes well with the other ingredients, and the crunchiness is a beautiful contrast to the otherwise smooth and runny texture.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium-sized tomatoes.
  • 0.5 red medium-sized red onion.
  • 1 jalapeno.
  • Juice of 1 freshly squeezed lime.
  • 0.5 cup of cilantro (chopped).
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Dash of dried cumin.

 

Instructions:

  1. Chop the tomatoes, onion, and jalapeno (be sure to remove stem and seeds) into large pieces.
  2. Place the tomatoes, onion, and jalapeno into a food processor. Add the lime juice, cilantro, and seasoning and pulse only a few times, just enough to finely dice ingredients while still retaining their texture. Alternatively, you can finely chop all the ingredients in step 1.
  3. Taste to ensure seasoning is to your liking. 
  4. Serve with tortilla chips as an appetizer or as a sauce on any number of Mexican dishes.

 

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