Serrano peppers (Capsicum Annuum) are a type of spicy chilli pepper. Initially, it was popular only in Mexican cuisine, but now is used globally. The term ‘serrano’ is a Spanish word that means ‘from the mountains,’ referring to the Sierra mountain ranges in the Mexican states of Puebla and Hidalgo, where serrano peppers first grew. On a single plant, there are about fifty pepper pods. Depending on their time on the stalk, they can be red, brown, orange, or yellow. Serrano peppers are widely used in the cuisines of the US as well as Southeast Asia, famous for the unique, spicy kick they provide.
Serrano peppers include immense nutrients, which have many health benefits. For example, it contains potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, calcium, vitamin A and much more. In addition, its high antioxidant content reduces oxidative stress. Also, it has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Therefore, this versatile spice has immense benefits if included in the diet.
Nutritional Value of Serrano Peppers
Serrano peppers are low in calories. As a result, these nutritious additives provide a much-needed boost of bright flavour to many dishes.
As per the USDA, around 100 grams of raw serrano peppers contain:
- Energy: 32 kcals
- Protein: 1.74 g
- Carbohydrates: 6.7 g
- Fibre: 3.7 g
- Sugars: 3.83 g
- Fat: 0.44 g
- Potassium: 305 mg
- Phosphorus: 40 mg
- Magnesium: 22 mg
- Calcium: 11 mg
- Sodium: 10 mg
- Iron: 0.86 mg
- Vitamin C: 44.9 mg
- Niacin: 1.54 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.5 mg
- Pantothenic Acid: 0.2 mg
- Vitamin A: 281 µg
Health Benefits of Serrano Peppers
Serrano peppers are healthy and have a nutrient-dense profile. They are low-calorie foods.
Listed below are the health benefits:
Rich Source of Potassium
Serrano peppers contain a large amount of potassium. Research proves that potassium helps regulate blood pressure and mineral-fluid balance in the body and also helps reduce kidney stones and age-related bone loss.
These benefits come from certain ‘organic anions’ in potassium that come directly from fruits, such as serrano pepper.
Aids in Weight Loss
According to research, eating chilli peppers, including the active component capsaicin (capsicum genus), reduces body weight, showing their anti-obesity effects.
Serrano peppers are high in capsaicin, which aids fat burning by assuring continuous fat oxidation. Capsaicin’s weight-loss effect is related to the fact that it can suppress your appetite, making you feel full and causing you to eat less.
Might Reduce Risk of Cancer
Dietary phytochemicals like capsaicin, abundant in serrano peppers, have been shown to have anti-cancer properties in studies. Capsaicin affects the expression of multiple genes involved in cancer cell survival and metastasis.
Multiple tumour-suppressor genes get targeted in various cancers. Capsaicin combined with other dietary ingredients, according to scientists, could result in powerful anti-cancer therapy.
Serrano Pepper Boosts Immunity
Serrano peppers are extremely rich in Vitamin C. According to USDA, 100 grams of raw serrano peppers contain 44.9 mg of Vitamin C. Studies prove that Vitamin C increases immunity by supporting various cell functions. Therefore, eating foods paired with serrano peppers can be a great immunity booster.
Helps Relieve Chronic Pain, Arthritis, and Sore Muscles
Capsaicin is a chemical abundantly found in serrano peppers. It is a colourless, odourless oil-like chemical compound found in the membrane of serrano peppers that holds the seeds, and it is this chemical that makes peppers “hot”.
Studies have proven capsaicin highly effective in treating chronic pain such as migraines, neuropathic pain, bone cancer pain, inflammatory bowel disease, and shingles. Also, this is because capsaicin helps block pain messages to your nerves.
Capsaicin relieves pain by reducing the quantity of a neurotransmitter that transmits pain signals to the brain. As a result, capsaicin creams, gels, and pain treatment patches treat fibromyalgia and arthritis pain. In addition, a study found that using capsaicin cream derived from serrano peppers reduces joint pain in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis patients.
Promotes Heart Health
Heart patients can eat serrano peppers to supplement their daily food intake. Studies have shown that Serrano peppers inhibit arteries from constricting, reducing blood flow to the heart.
In addition, as per research, the heat-stimulating capsaicin present in serrano peppers can also lower cholesterol levels by preventing cholesterol from accumulating in the body.
Serrano Pepper Improves Bone Health
Serrano peppers have an abundant amount of calcium and magnesium. Research links calcium to the prevention of osteoporosis. Studies have also indicated that magnesium is essential for bone cells and helps maintain bone integrity. Therefore, serrano peppers can be perfect for improving bone health and preventing osteoporosis.
Accelerates Healing of Gastric Ulcers
While many people think spicy foods can cause ulcers, evidence supports the contrary. As per research, capsaicin prevents and accelerates the healing of gastric ulcers.
This phenomenon reflects capsaicin’s ability to inhibit gastric acid secretion, boost secretion of alkali and mucus, and stimulate gastric blood flow. Therefore, you shouldn’t avoid serrano peppers if you have gastric ulcers due to their heat because they could speed up the healing process.
Helps Regulate Blood Sugar
Capsaicin in serrano peppers has anti-diabetic properties. In addition, eating capsaicin which is present in serrano peppers, dramatically reduces fasting blood glucose and insulin levels.
Also, research suggests capsaicin lowers blood glucose by boosting insulin levels and glycogen content. As a result, serrano peppers’ ability to lower blood glucose may be due to their “spicy” properties.
Lowers Body Temperature
When we sweat excessively after eating a serrano pepper, it’s because the capsaicin in it sends signals to the brain that the body is experiencing extreme heat and needs protection.
Sweating cools the body, and sweating is the most effective thermal effects in humans, as per research. Also, body sweat increases in proportion to the intensity of the thermal challenge experienced by the body. Also, this is because the body aims to balance heat and maintain a stable internal body temperature. Therefore, serrano peppers aid in the acclimatisation of our bodies to hot temperatures by making us cool down.
Ways to Use Serrano Peppers
Here are some ideas to include Serrano Pepper in your diet.
- Pickled Serrano peppers pair well with many meals and salads.
- Serrano peppers are also used in recipes such as cilantro rice and spicy breakfast waffles to add heat and nutrition to carbohydrate-rich foods.
- Most commonly, serrano peppers are ideal for making salsa and hot sauce.
- You can substitute this in place of jalapenos in any recipe if you’d like to make the food spicier.
Recipe with Serrano Peppers
Homemade Pickled Serrano Peppers
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
- Serrano Peppers: 450 g
- White Vinegar: 1¼ cup
- Water: ½ cup
- Sugar: 1¼ cup
- Garlic: 3 cloves
- Boil the vinegar and water in a vessel and all sugar. Stir occasionally until the sugar gets completely dissolved and the mixture reaches a soft boil.
- Remove the vessel from heat and cool its contents to reach room temperature.
- Slice 3 garlic cloves very thin. Slice the serrano peppers.
- Add peppers and garlic into a container, and then pour the vinegar mixture.
- Cover and refrigerate for three days for full flavouring.
- You can use the pickled peppers as an addition to many meals and salads, while the sweet and spicy vinegar solution poured on stewed cabbage, collards, and turnip greens.
- You can store the pickled peppers in the refrigerator for at least two months.
Storage and Food Safety
- You can refrigerate fresh serrano peppers for up to three weeks by storing them between paper towels or in a paper bag.
- To avoid direct contact of hands with the oils, always handle serrano peppers with rubber gloves. After touching them, thoroughly wash your hands. Also, this protects your skin and eyes from discomfort if you feel your face later.
- It would help if you rinsed fresh serrano peppers under running water thoroughly before use.
Precautions and Things to Keep in Mind
Although serrano peppers are nutrient-dense with many health benefits, you must remember certain things before eating them.
Make sure you are not allergic to serrano peppers or spicy foods before eating them. If you experience any typical symptoms of an allergic reaction after eating serrano pepper, such as hives, itchy or teary eyes, vomiting, or swelling, seek medical attention immediately.
Some spicy foods trigger symptoms such as developing a skin rash, itchiness in the mouth and coughing if you inhale the spice. In addition, research cautions against work-related allergic respiratory disease and asthma in spice mill workers due to exposure to hot pepper.
Overeating serrano pepper can also trigger asthma attacks. As per studies, anyone prone to asthma or asthma-like symptoms should steer clear of capsaicin. You also may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and reflux after consuming serrano pepper. Therefore, if you cannot eat spicy food or are sensitive to capsaicin, be careful when eating serrano peppers, or avoid them altogether.
The HealthifyMe Note:
Patients suffering from heart burns, asthma, and constipation should limit their consumption of Serrano Peppers. Get your customised diet plan or consult a health expert before including it in your diet if suffering from any specific disease or condition. Then, if you notice any discomfort, talk to your physician or nutritionist.
Serrano peppers are packed densely with vitamins and minerals essential for the body. Extremely low in calories, it is perfect to pair your foods with. Including serrano peppers in your diet can help you get your daily dose of nutrients. However, handle them carefully while cooking and be cautious of the possible adverse effects before eating them. For example, patients suffering from constipation or asthma must consult a health expert before including it in the diet.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Are serrano peppers good for you?
A. Serrano peppers are perfect for your health because they are full of capsaicin and Vitamin C, along with many minerals that provide numerous health benefits. Moreover, they are very low in calories and can lower your body temperature.
Q. Can you eat serrano peppers raw?
A. Certainly, serrano pepper can be eaten raw or chopped and added to dishes according to one’s convenience. However, it would help if you washed them properly before eating. It doesn’t need any peeling. It can be pickled or dried as well.
Q. How much vitamin C does a serrano pepper have?
A. According to USDA, 100 grams of raw serrano peppers contain 44.9 mg of Vitamin C. It has a good amount of vitamin C present. It enhances wound healing, boosting your immunity, iron absorption, and many more.
Q. What happens if you eat a serrano pepper?
A. Eating serrano peppers paired with your meals can provide numerous health benefits. However, serrano pepper can also trigger symptoms such as developing a skin rash, itchiness in the mouth and coughing if you inhale the spice in some people with either allergy or spice intolerance.
Q. Are serrano peppers hotter than jalapenos?
A. Serrano peppers have a Scoville heat rating of 5,000 to 15,000, while jalapenos have a Scoville heat rating of 2,000 to 5,000. Therefore, serrano peppers are five times hotter than jalapeños. Serrano peppers can substitute jalapenos if you want to make the dish spicier.
Q. What pepper is hotter: habanero or serrano?
A. Habanero peppers are hotter than serranos. Serrano peppers rank between 5,000 to 15,000 Scoville units on the chilli heat scale, while habaneros get a rating from 100,000 to 350,000 units. Therefore, habanero peppers are up to ten times hotter than serrano peppers.
Q. Does cooking serrano peppers make them hotter?
A. Yes, it does. The heat in pepper comes from capsaicin. Cooking the serrano peppers makes dishes hotter because the peppers break down while cooking and release more capsaicin into the dish.
Q. Do serrano peppers have capsaicin?
A. Yes, serrano peppers contain a lot of capsaicin, which is why they are spicy. However, it is mainly because of capsaicin that serrano peppers have many health benefits. Capsaicin can be found in the membrane of serrano peppers holding seeds.
Q. Can serrano peppers burn your skin?
A. Capsaicin oil releases and irritates your skin until you neutralise it, or it fades away naturally. Therefore, always wear gloves when handling serrano peppers and wash your hands thoroughly before touching your face.
Q. Are serrano peppers good for the heart?
A. Serrano peppers are good for the heart; they can prevent arteries from contracting, restricting blood flow to the heart. It also lowers cholesterol levels since it comprises heat-stimulating capsaicin. Therefore, they improve heart health.
Q. How many carbs are in one serrano pepper?
A. According to USDA, around 100 grams of raw serrano peppers contain 6.7 g of carbohydrates. The number of carbs in one serrano pepper can vary according to its weight, but a typical pepper weighing 8.5 grams can have 0.5 g of carbohydrates.
Q. Are serrano peppers good for inflammation?
A. Numerous studies have proven serrano peppers good for inflammation. All peppers contain compounds called capsaicinoids which are extraordinarily anti-inflammatory. The most common capsaicinoid is capsaicin, found in serrano peppers.
Q. What are the benefits of eating serrano peppers?
A. There can be many health benefits of eating serrano peppers. For example, capsaicin helps in weight loss, prevents cancer, improves heart health and helps relieve pain. In addition, it is rich in minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium, as well as vitamins A and C, which provide many other health benefits such as improving bone health and boosting immunity.
Q. Are serrano peppers Keto-friendly?
A. Yes, they are. Serrano Peppers are excellent for keto because they are low in net carbs. They are also minimally processed and free of harmful ingredients. Moreover, because they are so spicy, they are eaten in small amounts and do not add many calories to your daily calorie intake.
Q. Are serrano peppers low carb?
A. Yes, As per the USDA data, around 100 grams of raw serrano peppers contain only 6.7 g of carbohydrates, of which 3.7 g is dietary fibre. Therefore, they are low-carb fruits with many health benefits.
Q. How much sodium is in a serrano pepper?
A. As per the USDA, 100 grams of raw serrano peppers contain 10 mg of sodium. Therefore, the sodium content is less in these peppers. Moreover, low sodium foods can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Q. What’s the difference between serrano and jalapeños?
A. A significant difference between them is that serrano peppers are spicier than jalapeños. Serrano pepper has 32% more dietary fibre than a jalapeno – jalapeno has 2.8g of dietary fibre per 100 grams, while serrano pepper has 3.7g of dietary fibre.