It looks like adding a dash or two of hot sauce to our meals, like these chipotle pumpkin baked beans below, might be good news for our gut health. Consumption of the plant compound capsaicin, which is found in various chili peppers and what lends them their fiery bite, was associated with changes in the gut microbial structure that increased microbiome diversity and short-chain fatty acids abundance, according to a study in Nutrients.
Short-chain fatty acids are compounds produced by certain microorganisms in our guts and are thought to be responsible for a number of the health benefits such as improved immunity associated with the microbiome. The researchers suggested these changes may be why past research has found there might be certain health benefits attributed to consuming capsaicin such as driving down inflammation.
While it’s not known how much capsaicin exposure is needed to have a positive impact on the microbiome, we have a gut feeling you’ll agree this punchy baked bean dish is a keeper.
Chipotle Pumpkin Baked Beans Recipe
2 cups cooked cannellini beans
1 1/2 C water
1 1/2 C cooked cubed pumpkin or butternut squash
1/4 C tomato paste
2 small canned chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce
3 T brown sugar
2 T molasses, maple syrup or date syrup
2 T cider vinegar
1 t dried oregano
½ t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
3 pepperettes, chopped (optional)
1 large carrot, chopped
2 chopped shallots
Heat oven to 350 Farhenheit. Blend together pumpkin, water, tomato paste, chipotle pepper, brown sugar, molasses, cider vinegar, oregano, cinnamon, salt and black pepper into a smooth paste. Place beans, pepperettes (if using), carrot and shallots in a casserole dish. Sir in pumpkin mixture. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Makes four servings.
See also: Have Your Beans—and Some Chicken, Too
Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.