Chili pepper is known for its ability to make the foods to which it is added hot and spicy. Many consider it a panacea for the body, while others believe that if consumed excessively, it can cause health risks. Let’s find out if it is true that chili pepper is terrible for the liver and how to integrate it into your diet correctly.
Is Chili Pepper Terrible For The Liver Or Not?
Chili pepper is a food with a characteristic spicy flavor that is used both fresh and dried in the form of powder. It is abundantly widespread throughout the world and is widely used, primarily in the cuisines of Eastern and South American countries. It stands out for its numerous favorable properties; however, according to some, it could also increase the risk of liver damage.
In reality, the latest studies on mice deny this statement; several beneficial aspects linked to a balanced consumption of this food have been highlighted. Chili pepper is rich in antioxidants (in particular, carotenoids and vitamin C), which have a solid anti-tumor capacity. However, the substance that distinguishes it most is capsaicin, which is also responsible for its spiciness.
Capsaicin has a mild analgesic, anti-congestive, and antibacterial action. Furthermore, it can stimulate the evacuation of feces and regulate cholesterol. Although capsaicin, therefore, has notable favorable properties for health, the relationship between chili pepper and the liver has always been much debated, as it seems that this food, if taken in excessive quantities, can increase the possibility of developing pathologies both at the liver level and renal.
Chili Pepper And Liver: What The Latest Research Says
A recent study conducted by researchers from the Liver Cell Biology Laboratory of the Vrije Universiteit of Brussels and presented at the International Liver Congress, however, seems to deny the presence of risks linked to the consumption of chili pepper; indeed, the scholars have demonstrated how it proves effective above all for improve some liver functions, heal lesions present in this organ and prevent liver fibrosis.
Liver Cell Biology researchers conducted a study on mice, dividing the animals into two groups and giving one of the two a certain amount of capsaicin in their food. The mice had previously been subjected to a treatment that aimed to mimic liver damage, and what emerged was that those who had eaten the chili pepper had improved the liver lesions.
Their liver had improved compared to that of the other group of mice. Scholars have established that, if on the one hand, an excess of capsaicin can increase the possibility of incurring liver diseases, on the other hand, it can also have the opposite action, that is to prevent the onset of inflammation, harmful neoplasms of the liver, kidneys, oral cavity, stomach, and pharynx.
What makes capsaicin positive or negative for the organism is the dose taken: if it remains below a certain threshold (between 30 and 120 mg per adult ), this substance is effective in the prevention of various pathologies, while on the contrary, if it is exceeded, it could prove to be an element of risk.
The Properties Of Chili Pepper
The favorable properties associated with chili pepper derive from the presence of capsaicin, an alkaloid that is also mainly responsible for the spiciness that distinguishes this food. Discovered as early as 1800, it has an antibacterial, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory action, as long as the quantities are not exaggerated. The main benefits that distinguish this substance include:
- Help in reducing the level of “bad” cholesterol in the body;
- the ability to reduce cardiovascular risk ;
- its anti-inflammatory action, beneficial for psoriasis, arthritis and neuropathies;
- the high concentration of vitamins (in particular vitamins A and C) and antioxidants, such as flavonoids, lutein, and beta-carotene;
- the improvement of blood circulation, thanks to the marked vasodilatory properties ;
- the positive effect on digestion ;
- the stimulation of endorphins and heartbeat, which make capsaicin a natural aphrodisiac;
Contraindications Of Chili Pepper
Once it has been established that chili peppers only harm the liver if the quantities are exaggerated, what dose is considered safe to ensure no adverse health effects? In excessive amounts, capsaicin can irritate the intestine and urinary tract and should also be avoided by those suffering from ulcers, gastritis, or reflux.
Furthermore, you must also be careful when handling chili pepper with your hands, as it can irritate the eyes and mouth. Pregnant women who suffer from heartburn should eliminate it from their diet, while it is also not recommended for children under 12 years of age.
A further use of chili pepper, which is strongly hindered by the scientific community, is as an aphrodisiac: in some areas of the world, it is taken to enhance the sexual performance of men; however, this can expose them to a high risk of developing prostate cancer. To avoid the risks that characterize chili pepper and derive only the positive aspects, it is advisable to eat this food a maximum of twice a week and be careful not to exceed the quantities.