Besides being an absolutely awesome spice, Chillies are also good for us. They are loaded with vitamins and other compounds essential to our good health and well being.
One of the key elements of the Chilli that gives it its health-giving properties is a substance called capsaicin. This is the stuff that creates the burn that we experience when eating them, but it also provides a multitude of benefits for our well being.
The level varies from type to type, with the hottest, for example, Scotch bonnet having a lot of capsaicin and milder varieties like Jalapeno, less. When we eat Chillies ( or are unfortunate enough to get them in our eyes), receptors on the tongue and skin – experiencing the effect of capsaicin, send a message to the brain that we are feeling pain. The brain responds by instructing the body to produce endorphins ( hormones that make us feel good) to compensate for the discomfort that we are feeling.
The sense of well-being that the endorphins bring about makes the body feel that it is being well looked after. And as we know, if we feel good, we feel healthy. Indeed a considerable bonus from something we enjoy eating so much!
The health benefits of capsaicin
Capsaicin has been documented to have definite health benefits in the following areas:
1) Weight loss. Increases metabolic activity (the rate of which the body processes food), which helps to burn off fat and calories. Many slimming aids contain capsaicin.
2) Inflammation reduction. Slows down the process that causes inflammation.
3) As a painkiller. Is recognised as a treatment for osteoarthritis pain. It slows down the action of a substance that transmits pain to the brain. Studies have shown capsicum to be effective in the treatment of headaches.
4) Prevention of Congestion. It is anti-bacterial but also stimulates the production of substances that will clear a blocked nose.
The above are but a handful of the Chillies’ health benefits. It has also been shown to have promising use in the treatment of cancer, looking after your heart and soothing the symptoms of some stomach diseases.
In addition to capsaicin, Chillies are also full of antioxidants, including vitamin c and carotenoids. It is believed that these help regulate insulin production as less insulin is needed to control blood sugar when Chillies have been eaten
So not only tasty but beneficial to your health as well!