Foods you avoid BUT SHOULDN’T Part 7: HABANERO PEPPERSWhy we avoid it:

It’s hot. Way too hot for people with milder palates. Why the hell would you put anything in your mouth that feels like it’ll make the top of your head explode?

Why we should eat it:

The hotness of habanero peppers is from a compound called capsaicin, which actually has health benefits. Despite what it may feel like, hot peppers are not burning a hole in your gut. That hot sensation is caused by the release of Substance P, a neuropeptide that transmits pain and burning sensations to the nervous system. Scoville units measure the amount of capsaicin in a pepper, and therefore, its amount of pain. Habanero peppers have 10,000 to 350,000 Scoville units of heat, while cayenne peppers have 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville units, and the popular hot sauces have only 1,000 to 5,000 Scoville units. Despite what you might have heard, hot peppers don’t cause ulcers but might actually help prevent ulcers by helping the stomach build up bile and killing harmful bacteria and parasites. Capsaicin seems to regulate insulin levels, especially in overweight individuals, which might help diabetics. And cancer seems to hate hot spices. Studies have demonstrated that capsaicin can inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells and may protect cells from becoming cancerous. Moreover, habaneros contain potent antioxidants that may decrease the risk of cancer by inhibiting the DNA-damaging effects of free radicals. Capsaicin also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and can help treat symptoms of arthritis and headaches. And according to a study published in the Journal of Proteome Research, it can increase thermogenesis and help increase the body’s metabolism, forcing fat cells to be used as sources of energy. Not a fan of spicy stuff? Man up, for your body’s sake.

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