So are red pepper flakes actually good for you, or are they just a tasty tabletop seasoning? The answer is a resounding yes – this pizza parlor staple offers some legit health benefits.
Despite their petite size, red pepper flakes contain an impressive array of vitamins, minerals, and medicinal plant compounds. These include immunity-boosting vitamin C, iron for healthy blood, and metabolism-revving capsaicin.
Top health perks of adding red pepper flakes to your diet include:
- Lowering blood pressure thanks to high potassium levels
- Speeding up metabolism and aiding weight loss through thermogenesis
- Improving digestion and preventing ulcers by stimulating gastric juices
- Lowering cancer risk through antioxidant activity
- Increasing iron absorption to prevent anemia
- Boosting immunity and mental function via vitamins A and C
So not only can red pepper flakes
Keep reading to learn all about the nutrition, health benefits, and best uses of red pepper flakes. You’ll gain a new appreciation for this pizzeria staple and vibrant veggie-based seasoning.
What Are Red Pepper Flakes?
Red pepper flakes are made from crushed, dried chili peppers in the capsicum annuum species. This includes peppers like the Anaheim, bell, jalapeño, and Fresno. The peppers are dried and then ground to a flake-like consistency.
Unlike true chili flakes made from a single pepper variety, red pepper flakes are a blend of different peppers. This gives them a more complex, nuanced spicy flavor.
On the Scoville scale of spiciness, red pepper flakes rate around 5,000-30,000 units. This makes them mildly hot compared to super-spicy dried chilis. Their heat adds zing without overpowering dishes.
Nutritional Benefits of Red Pepper Flakes
Despite their tiny size, red pepper flakes contain an impressive nutritional profile. Some of their top nutrients include:
- Vitamin A – Supports healthy vision and immune function.
- Vitamin C – Powerful antioxidant that aids immune defense.
- Vitamin B6 – Important for metabolism and nerve cell communication.
- Iron – Helps regulate oxygen delivery as part of hemoglobin.
- Potassium – Lowers blood pressure by balancing fluids and mineral levels.
- Fiber – Improves digestion and heart health.
Red pepper flakes also provide disease-fighting plant compounds like carotenoids, flavonoids, and capsaicin. Their nutrition varies based on the specific pepper blend, but the overall vitamin and mineral content is substantial.
Top 10 Health Benefits of Red Pepper Flakes
Thanks to their stellar nutrition, red pepper flakes offer many benefits beyond just
1. Lower Blood Pressure
The potassium in red pepper flakes helps balance electrolyte levels. This improves blood flow and reduces strain on blood vessels and the heart.
2. Boost Metabolism
Capsaicin, the compound that gives peppers their heat, can boost calorie burn by activating brown fat activity. This revs up metabolism.
3. Improve Digestion
Red pepper flakes help stimulate gastric juices and enzyme secretions. This aids digestion and prevents issues like gas and bloating.
4. Reduce Cancer Risk
Antioxidants like vitamin A and C neutralize free radicals that can damage DNA and cause cancerous cell mutations.
5. Strengthen Immunity
Nutrients like vitamin A and vitamin C support immune cell health and activity. This enhances your body’s defenses.
6. Increase Iron Absorption
The capsaicin in red pepper flakes boosts iron absorption from food sources. This benefits those with anemia.
7. Improve Mental Function
Capsaicin has been shown to support neurotransmitter function involved with cognition and memory.
8. Soothe Ulcers
Contrary to popular belief, capsaicin may inhibit bacteria growth and protect the stomach lining.
9. Support Blood Sugar Control
Red pepper flakes help regulate insulin response and reduce spikes in blood sugar. This benefits diabetes management.
10. Aid Weight Loss
The thermogenesis effect of capsaicin can increase calorie burn and fat oxidation. This supports healthy weight loss.
Tips for Cooking with Red Pepper Flakes
Ready to start shaking on this flavorful, functional seasoning? Follow these tips:
- Add to pasta, pizza, eggs, meats, roasted veggies, and soups.
- Mix into olive oil for a quick spicy dipping sauce.
- Use when recipes call for crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper.
- To tone down heat, rehydrate flakes in water before adding to dishes.
- Store in an airtight container out of direct light. Refrigerate for maximum freshness.
- Pair with cool, creamy ingredients like cheese, yogurt and avocado to balance heat.
The Takeaway on Red Pepper Flakes
With their tangy bite, vibrant color, and impressive nutrition profile, red pepper flakes
So next time you see that familiar red pepper shaker on the table, shake it on with confidence knowing you’re boosting great flavor and great health in one fell swoop. Red pepper flakes offer proof that spicy and healthy don’t have to be mutually exclusive.