Ever heard of chili oil?
Maybe you love relying on a little of the spicy excitement to make your recipes sing or as a companion to the meals you serve.
This condiment and cooking ingredient sounds like some essential oil made from the juice of squeezing hot chilies. But in reality, it's an infusion of dried chili pepper in oil that's easy to make at home.
And while the concentrated punch of heat from your chili oil might just seem fun and frivolous, you're gaining powerful health benefits every time you indulge.
1. Spice up your life.
Maybe there really is something to putting a little more spice in your life. Enjoy more of those hot, spicy foods and you may live longer, says a study in The BMJ.
You know what's spicy? Hot chili oil!
The 2015 study looked at people in different parts of China. The researchers found continually eating spicy foods cut down on amounts of total and certain cause-specific mortality, with the risk of death going down as the number of days of eating spicy food went up.
So, there you have it: Go nuts on your spicy chili oil because it could save your life.
2. Boost your nutrient intake.
The dried chili peppers found in chili oil come with a wealth of vitamins and minerals that can help the various organs and systems of your body function as they should. They can also improve your body's immunity.
From the tiny flakes or powder, you gain a powerful boost from vitamins E, A, K, B2, B3 and B6. You also get a healthy dose of the minerals iron, copper, manganese and potassium.
Dried chili peppers even give you some digestive-system-regulating fiber.
You can add all of the healthy fats, vitamins and minerals you'll obtain from the oil into whatever you're cooking.
3. Beat pain and inflammation.
The hotter the chili pepper, the more benefits of capsaicin you'll gain. Capsaicin is a healing substance that counteracts pain and inflammation, among other benefits.
A 2011 study in the British Journal of Anesthesia found that a patch with a high concentration of capsaicin was effective for providing pain relief in patients who had neuropathic pain. The study also noted many other studies have shown low concentrations of topical capsaicin effective.
Capsaicin is also associated with reducing inflammation, improving congestion and counteracting prostate cancer cells.
4. Improve your heart health.
It's easy to have a fire burning in your heart for the taste and sensations of chili peppers, but these delicacies also benefit the health of your heart. It's the capsaicin and other capsaicinoids in chili peppers that can benefit your heart health.
An American Chemical Society report noted that these substances support cardiovascular health. They do so by reducing cholesterol levels and helping blood flow properly through your blood vessels when a gene is contracting arteries and cutting down on normal blood flow.
When you add chili oil to your diet, you gain all these health-enhancing benefits of chili peppers. And these are only some of the positive health effects of enjoying your favorite condiment.
Chili peppers are also associated with weight loss, preventing the start of stomach ulcers and reducing your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Indulge all you want in the spicy goodness of this oil because it's improving your body at the same time.
Sharon Chen is the author of DelishPlan.com, where she helps busy professionals plan easy and delicious home-made meals. Check out how you can make chili oil at home in just six minutes, so you can have this healthy Asian condiment on hand at all times.