When it comes to spicy food, you either love it or hate it. Those in favor of heat like using incendiary ingredients both for the flavor and the tongue-tingling effect. Add health benefits to the list of reasons to love spice because capsaicin, the heat-inducing chemical found in chiles, is proving to be a potent ingredient for warding off medical ailments.
Though there’s some debate about whether or not chiles can actually boost your metabolism, more and more research is indicating they can be effective ingredients when it comes to weight loss. The reason has to do with capsaicin’s ability to promote a feeling of fullness. One 2014 study found those who were given doses of capsaicin during meals were less likely to overeat or eat when they weren’t hungry.
Even those who are at a perfectly healthy weight have something to gain from adding an extra dose of heat to their diets. Preliminary studies with rodents have shown capsaicin may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Still other research has linked the spicy compound to improved oral health.
While reaching for your usual hot sauce or a jalapeño at the grocery store will do the trick, there’s a whole world of chiles out there. Introduce some new flavors to your cooking with these seven varieties.
1. Hot cherry
These round chiles are most commonly found already pickled at the grocery store, but you can find fresh if you do a little bit of searching. They have a medium spice level and a fair bit of sweetness, making them incredibly versatile. If you want to pickle them yourself, try Martha Stewart Living’s simple method. They’re also delicious when roasted, which highlights both the sweetness and the spice. Try Food & Wine’s easy recipe.
If you buy already pickled ones, they’re fantastic when filled with different meats, cheeses, or even tuna. Try Rachael Ray’s peppers stuffed with goat cheese for an easy appetizer.