The ice bucket challenge is so yesterday—now it's all about how much heat you can stand to eat.
If you miss the days where your social feeds were full of family, friends, and celebrities getting doused in ice water, you'll be happy to hear that the ALS Challenge is back—but this time, raising awareness for Lou Gehrig's disease is centered around eating the hottest peppers you can get your hands on.
The ALS Pepper Challenge started making rounds last year after Tom Haberstroh, a former ESPN announcer, shared a video of his family attempting the challenge. He created a campaign out of the viral video in support of his mother Patty who was newly diagnosed with ALS, and dared others to do the same to raise money and awareness. The campaign's goal is to raise more than $1 million for ALS research and aid in finding a cure for the disease.
You'll find videos of country duo Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks munching on a full plate of peppers, Shaquille O'Neal nearly choking live on Inside the NBA, and Jimmy Kimmel chomping his way through three whole peppers in his dressing room. And the latest celeb to cough, hack, and tear up during the challenge is singer Kelly Clarkson, who took a big bite of a raw habanero on camera and later posted the candid video to Instagram.
As an added bonus to raising awareness, the ALS Pepper Challenge might get you to eat hot peppers more often—and for good reason. Chile peppers and spicy pepper-based sauces have long been established as beneficial for holistic health. Capsaicin is a particularly powerful ingredient in peppers that have been proven to aid vascular health with ample antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.
One study proved that those who ate spicy food loaded with capsaicin had a 13 percent reduced risk of death compared to those who did not. Capsaicin has also been linked to a reduction of cancer-causing cells in the body, and a slew of other benefits such as allergy relief and healthy blood pressure thanks to developing research.
While partaking in the ALS Pepper Challenge is a fun way to raise awareness for charity, it's important to choose peppers that are safe to eat. Our editors recommend the following peppers should you wish to participate:
- Jalapeño is the golden standard for a truly hot pepper, but is a safe option in your own kitchen.
- Fresno red peppers are small in size but pack a huge punch of heat—they'll be a great option for your video.
- Many consider poblano peppers to be on the milder side, but for those with a sensitive heat palate, they'll be the best option to ensure you'll still have fun without the extreme spice that a habanero pepper is known for.
Ready to take on the challenge? Choose your pepper wisely, share your video on social media and be sure to include this link so your friends and family can donate to the cause.