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Are jalapeños good for you? What to know about the health benefits of spicy food.

This football season, you may have noticed a lone vegetable among the assortment of game-day appetizers: the jalapeño.

The jalapeño pepper packs a mild to medium punch and has an earthy green-pepper flavor that complements a wide variety of cuisines. Jalapeños can be an excellent addition to your dish if you’re looking to add nutritional value and flavor. However – the health benefits and risks of eating a jalapeño are dependent on how it’s prepared. Added into a bowl of traditional pho soup? Excellent. A jalapeño popper, a jalapeño pepper stuffed with cheese that’s then battered and deep fried? It’s OK to splurge every once and a while, but frequent consumption is not recommended. We go over some of the health benefits of these popular and beloved peppers.

Are jalapeños good for you?

Yes!

In general, peppers are low in calories, fat and sugar/carbohydrates without skimping on the flavor. They’re also packed with vitamins and antioxidants, which are important for the functioning of nearly all the systems and tissues in our bodies.

Spicy food has health benefits. But there are some things you should know.

Jalapeño peppers (and peppers in general) contain a compound called capsaicin, which is what makes foods spicy. Some people love and some people hate the burning sensation that capsaicin causes. For spicy food lovers, we have good news – capsaicin has been associated with a few health benefits. Emily Feivor, RD, a registered dietitian at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills in Queens, New York, says, “Capsaicin has been found to help reduce high blood pressure as well as increase good cholesterol (HDL) and reduce bad cholesterol (LDL). Due to capsaicin's antioxidant properties, it may protect against certain diseases and improve gut health.”

What are the benefits of eating jalapeños?

In addition to the benefits provided by capsaicin, jalapeños contain hefty amounts of vitamins and minerals. In particular, jalapeños are dense in vitamin A. According to the NIH, vitamin A is vital for vision health, the functioning of the immune system, reproductive health, growth and development, and the functioning of the heart, lungs, and other organs.

Jalapeños are also a good source of potassium, vitamin C and folate.

What are the side effects of eating jalapeños?

For people with stomach sensitivities like acid reflux (heartburn) or ulcers, spicy foods like jalapeños may exacerbate these symptoms. This may go without saying, but if you’re not a fan of spicy food, you may want to steer clear of jalapeños. Spicy foods in general can cause symptoms like sweating. This is because capsaicin tricks your brain into thinking the temperature has risen, so your body tries to cool itself down by sweating and becoming flushed. Although, jalapeños are considered a milder pepper, so these symptoms will likely not be as pronounced.

What does vitamin A do? Plus which foods you should eat to get more.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Are jalapeños good for you?