Red pepper flakes: Good or bad?

Lots of people enjoy the taste of spicy food, but don’t always have fresh peppers on hand when they want to spice up mealtime.

If you don’t want to make a run to the store, you’ve probably scoured your pantry looking for options. Sure, there are all kinds of spices and seasonings to choose from, but what about that jar of red pepper flakes? It’s commonly next to the salt and pepper at restaurants and just a few flakes can deliver an easy dose of spicy flavor.

But what is it, and is it good for you?

Red pepper flakes are usually made from a blend of peppers and chilis. The flakes are often a mix of jalapenos, Anaheim peppers, or even sometimes Fresno chilis. Red pepper flakes aren’t always the same color, but they’re usually packed with flavor, and packed with capsaicin. That’s what makes them spicy. The more capsaicin, the higher a pepper ranks on the hot pepper scale. Capsaicin is said to help with pain relief, inflammation, weight loss, and it possibly even helps prevent certain types of cancer.

That’s great news, but it probably doesn’t mean you want to go overboard on a good thing.

Sometimes people report a burning sensation on their tongue from eating red pepper flakes. Others report the pepper flakes sometimes irate their stomachs and give them heartburn. Just like anything else, you probably don’t want to overdo it. Instead, use red pepper flakes to add some spice to your food gradually. This way you’ll likely see more potential health benefits, and fewer negatives. Listen to your own body and your own taste before deciding how much pepper to use, and how often. When you find the right combination, you’ll be glad you took the chance to discover new and different pepper products.

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