Infographic: Capsaicin Boosts Heart Health — So Which Peppers Should You Choose?
The American Chemical Society (ACS) confirms that capsaicin, the compound responsible for the spice of many peppers, can have profound implications for heart health. Researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong found that the compound may be able to reduce heart attack risk by blocking a gene that makes arteries contract.
This isn’t the first time chili peppers with high amounts of capsaicin have been in the hot spot. In addition to their culinary uses, peppers containing considerable amounts of the spicy compound have been thought to help with cholesterol balance, blood pressure and pain relief (when applied topically via an over-the-counter cream or ointment). Interestingly, they’re also used in many countries to open the mind and stimulate mental strength.
With all of the health benefits found in these tiny-but-powerful foods, why aren’t we eating more peppers? Because some peppers are hot, hot, hot! The spice of a pepper is measured by the Scoville scale which measures the Scoville Heat Units (SHU). This scale ranges from 0 (what you find in a bell pepper) to 16,000,000 (The SHU of 100% pure capsaicin). Many people have a sensitivity to capsaicin’s “warming effects”, so knowing a pepper’s SHU can be a great guide. Given the many medicinal applications of peppers, we suggest “pinning this” chart, so that you can quickly and easily reference it next time you’re in the grocery store. (Maybe even set a goal to try a pepper higher on the scale the next time a recipe calls chili peppers.)
Here’s an easy-to-read chart with some of the most common peppers and where they fall of the Scoville scale.