At the slightest sign of a cold or flu brewing, we Turks usually run to the nearest grocery to stock up on oranges and tangerines, devouring them as if we had just come out of famine. But did you know that there are richer sources of vitamin C?
Serhat Koran, a primary care physician and phytotherapy specialist at Medipol Mega University Hospital, said that red pepper flakes are one of the best choices out there, as they are great in shielding the body against disease and weight gain.
"Everyone usually consumes lemons (and other citrus fruits) to get vitamin C. But one of the indispensable spices of winter, red pepper flakes, contains much more vitamin C than lemons," he said.
Noting that red peppers are powerful antioxidants, Koran said they are often overlooked as good sources of vitamins.
"Red peppers contain vitamin B6 and vitamin A, which play important roles in the body's energy metabolism. They reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood and aid in weight loss because they speed up the metabolism," he said.
Stating that the capsaicin in chili peppers, the compound responsible for their hot taste, is a strong analgesic (painkiller) and helps boost the immune system, Koran said it also helps to open up the airways and clear out the mucus that is plugged in the body.
However, Koran cautioned people suffering from peptic ulcers to consume pepper flakes carefully and at their own risk. He warned that excessive consumption can cause heartburn, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Koran also said that people should be careful about how they store red pepper flakes.
Underscoring that they should be kept in cool places, and ideally, in the refrigerator, Koran said, "If moisture seeps into the containers you keep them in, aflatoxins (which are poisonous carcinogens) can grow inside. These can eventually lead to liver cancer."