Chipotle peppers are a type of smoke-dried jalapeno that has a wide variety of health benefits, including an ability to prevent certain types of cancer, reduce blood pressure, help manage diabetes, protect against heart disease, aid in weight loss, clear up various respiratory conditions, and defend against intestinal diseases. Furthermore, chipotle powder or peppers can help improve the immune system, improve digestion, aid in health bone formation, eliminate night blindness, and optimize nutritional uptake from other foods.
Chipotle peppers are normal jalapeno peppers that have been left on the plant until they are mature and bright red, then removed and smoke-dried for a number of days, thereby eliminating all of the water weight inside the pepper that you may get from regular jalapenos. This drying process is what gives chipotle peppers and powder a smoky flavor that is popular in barbecue sauces, salsas, and various other Mexican or Central American dishes.
Chipotles peppers were primarily found in the markets of Mexico, but the widespread popularization of Mexican cuisine into the United States and other parts of the world has greatly increased the availability of chipotle peppers in other parts of the world. Most commonly, chipotle will be found in sauces, adobo (a popular meat marinade), soups, stews, or as a spicy side dish to other traditional Mexican food.
Nutritional Value of Chipotle
Most of the health benefits of chipotle are attributed to its vitamin, minerals, and other nutritive content, including capsaicin, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and dietary fiber, as well as vitamin A, K, C, B6, and potassium.
Health Benefits of Chipotle
Cancer Prevention: Certain chemicals that are present in chipotle have been shown to significantly reduce the chances of cancer, particularly prostate, lung, and pancreatic cancers. Capsaicin, the organic chemical which gives jalapenos and chipotle peppers their spice or heat, has been linked to triggering cell suicide (apoptosis) in cancerous cells. High levels of capsaicin has been associated with a decrease in the spread of cancerous cells and metastasis. Studies have also shown that it can result in the shrinkage of cancerous tumors, particularly those of prostate cancer. More research is currently being done on the effects of capsaicin and chili peppers on other types of cancer.
Cardiovascular disease: Chipotle peppers have also been positively linked to a reduction in cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. They reduce the presence of cholesterol and triglycerides, both of which can lead to dangerous and life-threatening conditions. It also helps the body dissolve fibrin, a naturally occurring substance that helps to form blood clots, which are the major cause of heart attacks and strokes. Capsaicin also widens and relaxes blood vessels, which can reduce blood pressure, thereby easing the passage of blood through the veins and arteries and reducing stress on the entire cardiovascular system.
Diabetes management and prevention: Adding chipotle, and more importantly, capsaicin, to your diet can help you reduce many of the dangerous conditions and situations associated with diabetes. The capsaicin can help to manage insulin levels in the body, which reduces flares, spikes, and plunges of blood sugar in the body. This quality makes chipotle invaluable to diabetic patients, particularly for those with type 2 diabetes.
Weight loss: Recent studies have shown that adding capsaicin-rich food, like chipotle peppers, to your diet can greatly help your weight loss efforts. Capsaicin stimulates consistent fat oxidation, rather than storage, so fat is turned into useful, functional energy. The study showed positive results in nearly all of the test subjects, and they showed increased weight loss at a steady, healthy rate, versus the placebo group. This is good news for anyone who is trying to lose weight, and who doesn’t mind some spicy food either! Diabetes and weight gain are closely related, so this ability to effectively stimulate weight loss is another reason why chipotle can help to combat type 2 diabetes.
Metabolism and energy expenditure: In addition to long-term weight loss, capsaicin found in chipotle and jalapeno peppers also increases postprandial metabolism. Postprandial means “after eating”, so directly after eating a capsaicin-rich meal, the body increases its metabolism, burns more calories, and basically functions at a higher level across a number of organ systems, positively effecting the body and defending against a number of diseases like obesity, diabetes, and gastrointestinal disorders. This also gives you a positive energy boost following your meal, as your body is stimulated to work quickly and convert calories into usable energy.
Anti-inflammatory activity: Although people naturally associate hot peppers like chipotle with heat and inflammation, they actually exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, both internally and externally. When topically applied, chili powder mixed into creams can boost pain relief of sore joints and muscles, and when consumed, capsaicin-rich foods also reduce inflammation throughout the body that is linked to conditions like arthritis and the formation of tumors.
Respiratory conditions: Everyone knows how annoying it can be to have a stuffy nose or a sinus headache, and chipotle peppers and powder can help relieve those irritating conditions! Capsaicin remains the most powerful element in this process, and induces mucus secretion, which can empty out the airways and sinuses, and also remove the irritants or bacteria that might be causing the respiratory or sinus condition in the first place!
Immune system health: Chipotle is a rich source of vitamin-C, like many fruits and vegetables, and this natural antioxidant can help to scavenge free radicals from the body and reduce your chances of contracting a number of diseases and condition, including cancer and heart disease. Vitamin-C is also essential in the production of carnitine, which stimulates the metabolism of fat into useful energy, so it reduces weight loss and improves your health in that way as well.
Digestion: Chili peppers like chipotle have a high fiber content, which can greatly benefit your digestive system. Dietary fiber adds bulk to your bowel movements, and helps food pass smoothly through the digestive tract, stimulates peristaltic motion, and even increases the secretion of bile and digestive juices. This also means that chipotle reduces the chances of constipation, as well as the dangerous side effects of that intestinal condition.
Bone health: As a great source of calcium and magnesium, chipotle peppers offer strong prevention of bone deterioration by stimulating growth and repair. These essential minerals are invaluable to bone health, so having a proper daily intake can reduce chances of debilitating diseases like osteoporosis.
Night blindness: High levels of vitamin-A can be found in jalapeno peppers and chipotles, and this essential nutrient has a long history of increasing eye health, slowing down the appearance of cataracts, and reducing macular degeneration. It also significantly reduces a condition called night blindness, which makes it possible to function better in the dark because your eyes respond and adjust more quickly.
Wound healing: Potassium is another essential nutrient found in high quantities in chipotle peppers. Potassium has a wide variety of applications, including its use as a vasodilator for reduced blood pressure and a stimulant for cognitive function. It also speeds up the healing of wounds and growths (particularly ulcers) and reduces the appearance of scars. Furthermore, potassium is a necessary component for the body to uptake calcium, thereby aiding in the development of bone matter for growth and repair, as well as the prevention of osteoporosis.
Few Words of Caution: Despite the impressive list of benefits, chipotle peppers do have a serious amount of heat! That can exacerbate preexisting gastrointestinal disorders such as heartburn or irritable bowel syndrome. The esophageal tissue can also sometimes become inflamed due to the capsaicin content. However, if you develop a tolerance for the heat of jalapenos and chipotle peppers, they can be a huge boost to your health! Natural caution against adding something new to your diet is always important, particularly if you don’t know if you are allergic to a specific food type.
Other than that, grab a glass of something cold to cool off your mouth and enjoy this spicy, beneficial pepper!