The Health Benefits of the Humble Chilli
Chilli devotees are a force unto themselves, stopping at nothing to spice up their food to ridiculous levels of heat. Continually hanging out for the next hit of capsaicin to get the endorphin rush that comes with the “pain” on impact of these tiny red, green, orange and yellow rockets, hard-core eaters revel in the rush of pleasure with each mouthful of fire. If you’re one of those slightly mad “fire eaters”, or at least someone who doesn’t mind a bit of heat with their food, you’ll be pleased to know that the resulting streaming eyes, flushing face and throbbing mouth is more than just a strangely addictive pastime. In fact, eating chilli is good for you in more ways than one. An excellent source of vitamin A, B, C and E, the humble chilli is packed with goodness including minerals like molybdenum, manganese, folate, potassium and copper. Incredibly, chilli contains seven more times vitamin C than an orange.
But it’s the capsaicin in chillies that contains important beta-carotenoids which are powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants destroy free radicals around the body preventing them from damaging cells, nerve and blood vessels. What’s more, for weight loss, chillies are an ideal food because they have been shown to increase the metabolism and curb your appetite into the bargain.
Those with sinus problems will get relief from nasal congestion from just one simple chilli, which in turn will dilate the airways of the lungs thereby reducing asthma and wheezing. The chilli has also been show to relieve chronic congestion in people who are heavy drinkers.
But here’s the really exciting news about chillies.
Recent research from the University of Tasmania is showing that regular consumption of chillies may help prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease. While the research is new and not conclusive, there are early signs that eating chilli may help prevent fatty deposits in artery walls. There is also emerging evidence that chilli consumption may help reduce the risk of colon cancer. The other thing about chilli is that it’s a great alternative to salt as a flavour enhancer, so why not reach for a vibrant, shiny chilli instead of the salt shaker next time you want to spice up a meal?
Happy fire eating!