Healthy Habañeros: 4.5 Reasons We're In Love With these Sexy Little Peppers
Updated: Feb 3
If you're feeling a bit run-down, adding habañero to your diet could be just the pick-me-up you need to get back to your best form, both during the day and under the sheets.
Habañeros and their spicy sidekick, capsaicin, have a lot of interesting effects on your body. You're probably familiar with the burning sensation on your tongue when you eat El Yucateco Mexican hot sauce. Depending on your personal preference for spicy foods, you may love or hate the heat. Once it's in your system, however, that chemical furnace does a lot of good. These are four-and-a-half health benefits of habañeros.
1) They Boost Your Metabolism
The capsaicin in habañero hot sauce kicks up a fire in your mouth, but it also kicks up your internal furnace. By boosting your metabolism, eating spicy chilis or Mexican hot sauce can help you burn more calories without changing any other part of your exercise or nutrition routine. Having a higher metabolism also gives you added energy to get more done and feel your best. Who doesn't want that?
2) They Combat Inflammation
Habañeros attack inflammation from two different angles. The capsaicin in peppers activates vanilloid receptor proteins in the body that affect pain and inflammation, especially in the skin. Many studies have explored this connection - and continue to do so - but the upshot is that eating chili peppers lowers inflammation in your skin and throughout your body.
On top of that, habañeros are packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants combat oxidative stress on the body, which causes inflammation and many of the physical signs of aging. It's an inflammation-bashing double-whammy.
3) They Support Your Immune System
The antioxidants we just mentioned are great for your immune system in general. Specifically, habañeros are a great source of Vitamin C. C is one of the most well-known vitamins and immune-boosters. C supplements are used for lessening cold symptoms, cancer support treatments, and everything in between. Current research suggests that getting your vitamins from food, rather than supplements, gives you the most health benefits, so up your natural C intake with your hot sauce!
4) They Reduce Depression
Anecdotal evidence has supported spicy foods' role in lessening depression for quite a while, but controlled studies have taken a bit longer. Researchers at The University of Colima combined small doses of capsaicin with a common antidepressant medication. They found that taking capsaicin alongside the drug increased the positive results more effectively than increasing the dose of the medicine itself.
Depression is a highly complex and challenging issue. It doesn't hurt to have as many tools in your treatment toolkit as possible.
4.5) They Increase Libido
Scientifically, all four of the previous benefits can also help improve libido and stamina, but there's an additional (and slightly mysterious) component to this story, coming straight out of lab research.
French scientists (naturally) have been studying the connection between spicy food and sex drive in men. Their findings show that men who enjoy spicy foods produce more testosterone, a hormone closely tied to libido and performance. The research shows a strong correlation, but not causation, meaning it's a chicken-or-egg scenario. Does higher testosterone lead to enjoying spicy foods more? Or, does consuming spicy foods generate more testosterone? That answer hasn't been discovered yet, but the results should be interesting.
That's why this one earns half a point. The anecdotal evidence is strong, as is the scientific correlation, but we're waiting on further data to award it a FULL point. We have your back.
Train Your Tastebuds
If you want to enjoy all of these health benefits from habañeros, but can't handle the heat, don't worry! You can teach yourself to enjoy spicier foods and appreciate their rich flavors. Your vanilloid receptors (the proteins that react to capsaicin) gradually adapt to the level of spice you eat. By regularly adding little bits of spicy foods to your diet, you teach your receptors to dial back the pain sensations and enjoy the flavor. By starting small and staying consistent, you can gradually work your way up to loving those XXX wings without setting your face on fire.
So, add an extra splash of El Yucateco Hot Sauce to your dinner tonight, and start reaping those benefits! Your body, and your valentine, will thank you.