Kenyans have been advised to consume pepper regularly as it has vital nutrition and health benefits, including minimising the effects of major chronic diseases.
Faith Munoru, nutritionist at the Kiambu Level 4 Hospital, says chili, or hot-tasting pepper, is one of the popular spices known for its medicinal properties despite its fiery hotness that most people dread.
She explained that pepper has amazingly high levels of vitamins and minerals, and that just 100 grammes can provided 240% of vitamin C, 39% vitamin B-6, 32% vitamin A, 13% iron, 14% copper and 7% potassium.
Ms Munoru added that the main component of the capsicum is a chemical known as capsaicin, which is responsible for the intense heat sensation that increases the metabolic rate and aids in fat burning. In addition, she stated that capsaicin lowers blood sugar levels, improves heart health and boosts circulation. Besides, pepper heals intestinal problems and protects against strokes.
The nutritionist explained that the plant has a very positive impact on people who are overweight or those suffering from diabetes because it helps to reduce the insulin levels by boosting the pancreases that produces the fluid.
Her colleague in the field, Mr Patrick Wanjohi, affirmed that chili is known as circulation booster and also acts as blood thinner to help protect a person against stroke, which had claimed many lives.
He says regular intake of chilli can help minimize the effects of inflammatory diseases in the body by eliminating bloating especially after feeding poorly.
Mr Wanjohi says it is also good in other antioxidants such as vitamin-A, and flavonoids like a-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin that help protect the body from injurious effects of free radicals generated during stress and diseases condition.
He says that chilies carry a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, iron and magnesium, as it were, which are important component of cell and body fluids that helps in controlling heart rate and blood pressure.
However, he cautioned residents on frequent consumption of fresh chilies which may cause stomach problems and advised on using dry chilies. He also warned them on certain chemical compounds like aflatoxin (fungal mold), found in spoiled chilies that are known to cause stomach, liver and colon cancers.