Jalapeno Benefits

Is Eating Jalapeño Peppers Good for You?

The jalapeño pepper has been a staple of Mexican cuisine and culture for a very long time; in fact, there is evidence of its cultivation in Mexico that dates back thousands of years. In the millennia since then, the jalapeño has become a go-to pepper in numerous cultures around the world. In addition to its unique spicy flavor, though, the jalapeño also happens to be rich in nutrients and bioactive compounds that have been proven to be good for overall health and wellness.

Origins of the Jalapeño Pepper

Jalapeños (Capsicum annuum) are believed to have originated in what is now Mexico in the region around the city of Xalapa in the eastern part of the state of Veracruz; the name “jalapeño” is even derived from “Jalapa,” an alternate spelling of the city. Over the centuries since Christopher Columbus brought the peppers back to Europe, they have become popular in many other countries around the world. In the United States, jalapeños are a common ingredient in various savory dishes like tacos, burritos, and nachos; jalapeños are even sometimes used in baked goods and beverages.

Though mostly thought of as a vegetable, the jalapeño pepper is actually technically a berry. It is also only one of the cultivars of the Capsicum annuum species; other members of the species include cayenne peppers, bell peppers (both red and green peppers), chili peppers, and paprika. The species also includes chipotle peppers, which are a smoke-dried version of jalapeño that is often used for seasoning. These spicy peppers are known for their heat, but the different cultivars all have different levels of spiciness according to the Scoville scale.

Jalapeño Pepper Nutritional Facts

Hot peppers may not seem like a good source of nutrition, but jalapeños happen to be great sources of a number of valuable nutrients. Moreover, their calorie-to-nutrient ratio makes them a good addition to a diet for someone trying to lose weight. A serving of raw jalapeños, for instance, contains about 6 grams of carbohydrates (mostly in the form of dietary fiber), about 1 gram of protein, negligible fat, and only 29 calories. Below is a list of essential vitamins and minerals contained in jalapeños:

Vitamins (% Daily Value)

  • vitamin A (7%)
  • vitamin B6 (32%)
  • vitamin C (143%)
  • vitamin K (18%)
  • folate (7%)
  • niacin (9%)

Minerals (% Daily Value)

  • calcium (1%)
  • phosphorus (4%)
  • potassium (8%)
  • manganese (2%)
  • magnesium (4%)
  • iron (2%)

In addition to the wide variety of nutrients above, jalapeños contain numerous antioxidant compounds. Antioxidants are substances that protect the body from the potential damage of free radicals; this damage, which can lead to oxidative stress, is believed to be a factor in many chronic diseases. Jalapeño peppers have several types of antioxidants, including carotene and vitamin C, but another source is what makes them such a spicy food: capsaicin. Capsaicin is a type of capsaicinoid that has antioxidant properties even though it is also a chemical irritant.

What Are the Health Benefits of Jalapeños?

With high concentrations of vitamin C and B6, as well as all the other nutrients, jalapeños can be a healthy addition for almost any diet. The various nutrients and bioactive compounds found in jalapeños are also associated with an array of health benefits:

  • Pain relief: Capsaicin, the pungent compound known for making fresh jalapeños spicy, has also been studied in recent years for its potential as a natural pain reliever when applied topically. When capsaicin comes into contact with the skin (in the form of a cream or ointment), it blocks pain receptors in the area and can reduce minor pain in the muscles and joints.
  • Immune system: With over 100 mg in each serving, jalapeños are an excellent source of vitamin C, an essential nutrient that has long been associated with strengthening the immune system. The vitamin C content is thought to boost immune system function by stimulating production of white blood cells, which create the antibodies that fight off pathogens.
  • Heart health: In addition to its antioxidant properties, capsaicin has been shown to have potential benefits for cardiovascular health; this includes improving high blood pressure, lowering the chance of developing blood clots, and reducing cholesterol levels. Moreover, the relatively high potassium in jalapeños may improve blood flow and ease the strain on blood vessels. Collectively, these effects may even lower the chances of heart disease.
  • Weight loss: Jalapeños, as noted earlier, are also a good choice for a weight loss plan. Beyond having very few calories, jalapeños are low on the glycemic index; this means that they have very little effect on blood sugar, a key factor in insulin resistance and obesity.
  • Chronic disease: Jalapeños are good for the immune system in general, but they are also potentially helpful in preventing chronic disease. This is primarily due to the antioxidant properties of many compounds in the peppers. The effect of antioxidants may reduce the risk of conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and it may even inhibit the growth of several types of cancer cells.

Possible Side Effects of Eating Jalapeños

While jalapeños clearly offer a wide range of health benefits, they do pose certain risks to some people. Some individuals, for example, have an allergy to peppers; others have a low tolerance for spicy foods in general. People with irritable bowel syndrome, stomach ulcers, or other ailments of the gastrointestinal tract may want to avoid jalapeños because of the potential irritation of the lining of the digestive system. Jalapeños have also been known to cause heartburn (acid reflux) or even migraine headaches. Even preparing them for cooking or eating can be risky because of the potential burning sensation on the skin; for this reason it is recommended to wear gloves when working with the peppers.

Silva: Your Source for Premium Ingredients

Jalapeño peppers are some of the most popular peppers in the world for good reason; they have great flavor and texture, and they are loaded with nutrients that provide numerous health benefits. As with all of our products, Silva’s dried green and red jalapeño peppers are available in a variety of different formats that are useful for seasoning blends, salad dressings, soups and stews, and snacks. If you’d like to learn more about any of our products or how you can partner with Silva, please contact us today to speak with our friendly team.