What are the health benefits of peppers? These are another ingredient that frequently finds its way into many of my recipes, and for good reason. Antioxidant rich, lots of vitamin C, flavonoids…a great all rounder.

Skin health

Red and orange peppers are packed with a very powerful group of fat-soluble antioxidant compounds: carotenoids which contribute to the vivid colours. As fat soluble compounds, they don’t stay in circulation very long, and by nature want to migrate into fatty tissues. They will rapidly diffuse into the fatty subcutaneous layer of the skin, where the collagen and elastin fibres are at their most dense. These protein fibres give our skin its structural support and keeps it supple and sag free. Carotenoids can help protect collagen from damage, which can reduce wrinkling and ageing of the skin. They can also deliver some localized anti-inflammatory activity, so can be useful for eczema and acne. If you think of lesions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis, they all feature redness during various stages of their flare up. This is active inflammation. Anything that can reduce inflammation can help these lesions to appear less severe.

Heart & circulation

Peppers are also rich in a group of compounds called flavonoids. These compounds are beneficial for the health of the cardiovascular system. This is because they have an effect upon the endothelium – the highly physiologically active inner skin that lines our blood vessels. Flavonoids get taken up by the endothelial cells that make up the endothelium, and cause metabolic distress within these cells. When this happens, the endothelial cells are stimulated to release something called Nitric Oxide. This is something they release naturally for regulating blood pressure, but flavonoids almost force the process. Nitric Oxide, when released by endothelial cells, moves out into the musculature of the vessel walls and causes these muscles to relax. As these muscles relax, the vessel gets bigger. As it gets bigger, the pressure within it drops. In short – flavonoids can have a temporary lowering effect upon blood pressure. Flavonoids can also help to increase the resilience of the endothelium against inflammatory damage. Damage that can set the stage for heart disease.