Seven brilliant health benefits from eating chilli (and one word of caution!)
People have been eating chillies for at least 9,000 years and its no wonder, because chillies are quite literally a miracle food. The range of nutritional and health and wellbeing benefits have been proven in study after study. So whether you like them mild or spicy its time to spice up your life
Health benefit #1 You will live longer
500,000 people were involved study carried out by Harvard university to examine the links between eating chillies and life expectancy. The research project ran over seven years. The report in British Medical Journal stated that people who ate spicy food three times a week were 14% more likely to live longer than those who did not each spicy food. A study in Italy showed that eating spicy food four times a week can cut the risk of a fatal heart attack or stroke by up to 23%. So, if you fancy a telegram from the Queen you know what to do
Health benefit #2 It will help you fight off colds
Regularly eating chillies helps to boost your immune system. Red chillies in particular have active ingredients to help keep infections at bay. Studies have shown that high levels of beta-carotene, Vitamin C and Vitamin E combine to give a real boost to your immune system. This is hugely beneficial for your ability to fight off colds. Not only that, if you already have a cold, giving yourself a spicy sweat will help to clear sinuses and blocked noses. So, first sign of a cold get cooking!
Health benefit #3 Chillies are an anti-inflammatory
Many athletes eat fresh chillies before training to help prevent injury. It as tip many of us should follow. If you run or exercise regularly you are likely to experience inflammation from injuries. Capsaicin, the element in chillies that provide the heat is an anti-inflammatory. It works as both a natural remedy for pain and helps reduce inflammation. Medical professionals endorse its use in dealing with the pain of Osteoarthritis. Scientists are studying the use of Capsaicin in the treatment of a range of joint pain and sensory nerve damage problems. So, whether you want to run a marathon or just walk comfortably in old age you need chillies.
Health benefit #4 You will feel happier
When we cook and eat chillies, we experience the heat giving element of the fruit, the Capsaicin. Depending on the strength of the chilli that can run from a mild warmth to a hot burning sensation. Thankfully it doesn’t do any permanent damage, and for many of us chilli-heads it becomes a fun addiction. There is a scientific reason for this. Capsaicin is brilliant at tricking our central nervous system into thinking that the pain is related to harm. This triggers our bodies to release of endorphins that produce a wave of pleasurable sensations in our bodies. Endorphins bring about a feeling of euphoria and well-being. So, a chilli a day keeps the blues away
Health benefit #5 They reduce your risk of cancer
For many years scientists have known that in countries where lots of spicy food is consumed cancer rates are generally lower. In India and Mexico the incidences of stomach cancer are significantly lower. A report in the Anticancer Research Journal, entitled Anticancer Properties of Capsaicin Against Human Cancer discusses the exciting potential for the use of chilli derivatives in cancer prevention and care. In one study involving rats with prostrate cancer. It was shown that large doses of capsaicin kills significant numbers of cancer cells in the rats. Who would have thought that the humble chilli may be the secret weapon in developing cures and treatment for cancer.
Health benefit #6 Chillies are a superfood
Chillies contain an astonishing amounts of nutrients. They contain more Vitamin A than carrots and more Vitamin C than oranges and have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and pain killing properties. Try you making your chilli with pork instead of beef and you get a big Vitamin D boost too. Add Go on spice up you life!
Health benefit #7 They can aid weight loss
As if it couldn’t get any better, chillies in your diet have been proven to aid weight loss. When we eat chilli, it tricks our bodies, remember how that get the body to release feelgood endorphins.
Well it also has another impact of making us feel fuller and with our appetite reduced we eat less. The real benefit is that this effect continues so you are likely to eat less in your next meal too. Further studies have also revealed that eating chillies helps us to burn body fat. The heat of the spice causes our bodies to heat resulting in an affect called Thermogenesis, a condition in which more body fat is burned, particularly when combined with low sugar diets.
So, chillies truly are an amazing gift to us and the good news is that even pretty mild chilli dishes can bring these benefits. So there really is no downside apart from one. So here it is, a word of caution particularly to fellow chilli heads
Health warning #1 Eating extreme chillies can alter your brain
Eating regular chillies has been linked to a lower risk of stroke but with the new trend in developing extreme chillies health problems are starting to arise. An American man was hospitalised in 2018 after taking part on a chilli eating contest. After eating a Carolina Reaper chilli, then the hottest chilli in the world, he was immediately hit with excruciating pain, known a thunderclap headaches. It resulted in him being hospitalised. Brain scans in the hospital showed blood vessels in his brain had narrowed, a condition that can lead to a stroke. However, repeat CT scans a few weeks later showed his brain had returned to normal. There was no lasting damage but to be on the safe side we recommend you think twice about entering chilli eating contests. See how long these guys can go without a drink after eating a Carolina Reaper. Its probably longer than you’d guess