Recently I was reading an article posted on Sniperhorizon. In this article the author states that eating hot foods has some rather amazing health benefits. The title alone drew me in, Spicy food changes your brain and health. So I had to read. After all, I love hot foods and I am the curious sort. Two rather amazing claims were made in the article.
- Spicy Food Strengthens Connections Between Brain Cells
- Spicy Food Actually Makes You Live Longer
Red peppers contain a compound known as apigenin. It is this flavonoid that the article claimed to be one of the key components of chili peppers shown to provide these benefits.
I tend to be dubious of claims of this nature. More and more often it seems that food and health businesses are manipulating science as just another method of generating press releases.
For this reason I tend to look for supporting documentation for any health claims. Unfortunately, no links were provided in this article. However, there is sufficient information provided to do further research.
I’m glad I did! The reality is that there is plenty of reason to get excited about this little flavonoid. Science Daily published an article with amazing pictures of stem cells treated with apigenin becoming neurons. According to the article “Researchers believe apigenin can be used as an alternative approach on future treatments for neurodegenerative diseases as well as in neuronal differentiation strategies in laboratory.” Another well documented article published on the NCBI web site demonstrated that apigenin has been recognized as a “cancer chemopreventive agent” due to its “potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities”
“Epidemiologic studies considerably support the notion that diets rich in plant flavones are associated with a number of health benefits, including a reduction of the risk of developing certain cancers. Integration of dietary modification rich in flavones might be a comprehensive chemopreventive strategy for the high-risk individual that may have impact in the neoplastic transformation. Since apigenin is one of the most bioactive plant flavone and is widely distributed in common fruits, beverages and vegetables, its consumption through diet is highly recommended….In addition, apigenin has been demonstrated to help in improving cardiovascular conditions, stimulate immune system and provide some protection against cancer. Establishing whether or not therapeutic effects of apigenin are beneficial to patients will require research and generation of scientific evidence…”
You may have noticed that the NCBI article mentioned that apigenin is ONE of the most widely distributed flavonoids in common fruits, beverages and vegetables. The nice thing about that is that if you are interested in increasing your apigenin intake and don’t like ‘heat’ it’s easy to get. This pdf from the USDA lists among others, Parsley, Thyme, Celery hearts, and Peppermint, as great sources for apigenin.