Scotch bonnet is a variety of chilli pepper that is found in many parts of West Africa. They are used prominently in preparing cuisines and spicing up delicacies. Scotch bonnet pepper is called Ata Rodo in the Yoruba language of Nigeria. Fresh, ripe scotch bonnets can range from green to yellow to scarlet red colours. This article discusses the nutritional value and health benefits of scotch bonnet pepper (Ata Rodo).
Nutritional Value of Scotch Bonnet Pepper (Ata Rodo)
Scotch bonnet pepper is rich in minerals such as potassium, copper, and iron. They are also high in vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6 and vitamin K1.
Furthermore, scotch bonnet peppers are an excellent source of the compound capsaicin, which is responsible for their hot flavour and many of their health benefits.
They are also very high in antioxidant carotenoids, such as capsanthin, violaxanthin, lutein, ferulic acid, and sinapic acid.
Health Benefits of Scotch Bonnet Pepper (Ata Rodo)
The following are some of the health benefits of Scotch Bonnet Pepper derived from its nutritional components.
1. Reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol
According to some studies, capsaicin – the main compound in Scotch Bonnet peppers – has been said to decrease total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoproteins, known as ‘bad cholesterol,’ according to some studies. These studies also suggest that capsaicin can increase high-density lipoproteins, known as ‘good cholesterol.’
2. Improves high blood pressure
Medical studies have indicated that capsaicin reduces high blood pressure and improves heart health. They do this by releasing substances that widen blood vessels, reducing an enzyme that narrows blood vessels, and stimulating increased urination, which reduces blood pressure by aiding to remove excess fluid.
Hence, scotch bonnet peppers are great for reducing high blood pressure.
3. Strengthens the immune system
Scotch bonnet peppers are loaded with vitamin A and C, which strengthens the immune system to harmful fight infections.
A 2015 study also stated that capsaicin could be effective in fighting against antibiotic-resistant infections. According to the study, the compound could kill these bacterial strains that were resistant to the antibiotic erythromycin.
Eating foods that have been well prepared with scotch bonnet peppers can help to fortify your immune system and aid recovery from illnesses.
4. Might prevent cancer
Another one of the interesting health benefits of scotch bonnet peppers is that it might be useful in preventing cancer.
According to a 2020 study, capsaicin was found to be anti-angiogenic, which means that they block the growth of blood vessels that support cancer growth. They are also rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals, which helps to prevent cancer and combat oxidative stress.
5. Natural pain reliever
It might seem contradictory that something spicy can act as a natural pain reliever, but scotch bonnet peppers does just that. Here’s how.
Capsaicin binds with pain receptors (nerve endings that sense pain) and makes these pain receptors insensitive to some forms of pain. A recent study investigated the use of capsaicin for pain relief and found out that it could be used for the treatment of nerve-related pain from herpes and other nerve-related pain conditions.
6. Helps with weight loss
Some medical studies have stated that capsaicin can help with weight loss by reducing appetite and increasing fat burning. One particular study found that eating chilli pepper regularly can increase fat burning and reduce caloric intake.
When you eat spicy foods that have been made with scotch bonnet peppers, you are less likely to overeat, thus aiding weight loss.
7. Improves eye health
Green scotch bonnet peppers are high in a carotenoid known as lutein. A number of medical evidence shows that lutein has several beneficial effects, especially on eye health.
Lutein improves and prevents age-related macular disease, the leading cause of blindness and vision impairment. Scotch bonnet peppers are also rich in vitamin A, which supports vision and eye health.
8. Prevents diabetes
Some medical studies have postulated that capsaicin has anti-diabetic effects, such as reducing insulin resistance, which makes it easier for blood glucose to get inside cells from the bloodstream. Furthermore, eating spicy chili pepper also helps prevent obesity, which is an important risk factor for diabetes.
Possible Side Effects of Scotch Bonnet Pepper
While they do have many health benefits, Scotch Bonnet peppers are not for everyone. There are certain side effects associated with scotch bonnet peppers. In some people, it could cause nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, acid reflux and heartburn, especially when taken in large amounts.
Scotch Bonnet Peppers are highly nutritious and have many health benefits. Thus, they should be incorporated moderately into your diet.
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