I love spicy food. Of course, it is not recommended to eat spicy foods on a regular basis but from time to time I indulge myself with some delicious dishes made with chili! I am a huge chili fan so in this article, I will tell you more about the health benefits of eating chilies.
All over the world, chilies have been used for the sole purpose of adding some spice to a food item. However, studies have shown that adding chili does more than just giving good flavor. Chillies have proven to contain a lot of goodness in them despite their very fiery nature that lights up our insides when we consume them.
There are several types of chilies in the world with some of them being native to some countries based on their abundance and availability. In the US, the most commonly used chili is cayenne peppers and jalapenos. However, some parts of the world are addicted to Indian Green Chillies when it comes to giving them the spice. While researchers have concluded this is the spiciest chili in the world that debate really depends on our taste buds towards the end of the day.
If you are not a fan of chili, then your outlook towards the fiery spice is about to take a turn. Read on to know how Chillies are a huge lifesaver in so many ways.
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The Great Benefits of Eating Chili – Chillies Help Burn Fat!
There are several types of chilies. But all of them have one thing in common- being healthy. Chilies do so much by improving your mood and handling your digestion.
The main component in chilies is a chemical called Capsaicin, which is responsible for the intense heat sensation. Capsaicin lowers blood sugar levels, improves heart health, boost circulation, heal intestinal problems, and protects against strokes. Because of their ability to reduce the insulin levels, adding chilies to your meals can have a positive impact on people who are overweight or suffer from diabetes. Chilies also boost circulation and can have a major impact on your health by also acting as a blood thinner to help protect against strokes.
Important! Frequent consumption of fresh chilies may cause stomach problems. Dry chilies don’t have the same effect. They still do contain capsaicin but don’t harm your stomach.
Consuming chilies regularly can help minimize the effects of inflammatory diseases. They also provide an effective pain relief if applied on the skin and also have antibacterial properties.
Lowers Blood Sugars
Increase in blood sugar contributes to diabetes and may promote weight loss or weight gain based on the type of diabetes. Chilies are known to induce breaking down of sugars which in turn improve the blood sugar level, thus benefitting diabetics.
Increase in blood sugar can be caused by a number of things such as consuming high carbs, an addition of extra sugar in fruit juices and beverages and consuming sweet delicacies in abundance. When your body is loaded with more sugar than it requires, your blood sugar level increases. Many people consider diabetes as the opening gate to a horde of other diseases.
While diabetes itself is a symptom of other major problems, watching your diet sugar level can greatly benefit your overall health. For people trying to lose weight, consuming chilies in their diet can promote weight loss while reducing blood sugar levels. You can add chilies to your food in small quantities for starters.
Promotes Digestion and Good Mood
Consuming chili has proven to release endorphins. If you feel good and satisfied after a spicy meal, it usually has something to do with the chilies. An endorphin-rich meal because of chilies can greatly improve your mood on a daily basis and can also be used as an anti-depressant.
Besides, its rich dietary fiber helps in breaking down food and enabling smoother digestion. Easier digestion also means better absorption of food and nutrients. Thus, a spicy chili dish also helps in preparing your body to absorb other nutrients from food in a faster and better way.
Contrary to popular belief, a spicy meal can actually help you with better digestion especially if you witness fullness or bloating. If you are used to feeling bloated after every meal, then you must consider consuming more chilies in your diet as better digestion can relieve you from it in minutes.
Vitamin Rich Source
Chilies are rich in vitamin C and E, both of which have numerous health benefits. Vitamin C can help in enhancing your body’s natural immune system. When you have a cold or a runny nose, consider consuming chilies. You will notice an immediate release in your blocked nose and a decrease in the cold. Alternatively, you can also make chili tea using Cayenne pepper powder. Simply mix with hot or lukewarm water and consume to relieve yourself from Common cold and flu.
Vitamin E in chilies helps maintain good skin health. Vitamin E is responsible for the production of several natural skin oils that help in maintaining the natural elasticity of the skin. Elasticity is very important to maintain youthful skin. Who knew chilies have anti-aging benefits? Regular consumption of chilies can prevent various signs of aging while providing glowing skin.
Vitamin K in green chilies is the best component to fight the risk of osteoporosis and the risk of bleeding profusely when injured. Osteoporosis prevention can be very beneficial especially during old age. Chilli’s rich iron content also helps in improving your blood health.
Perfect for Diets
When it comes to diets, we measure each vegetable or fruit we put on the plate to make sure the calories are less. Chilies are the perfect diet companions because of their lower calorie count. The best part about this is the fact that you can add chilies to any savory dish. Besides, if you have a higher tolerance for spice, then you may even substitute other veggies with chilies.
Chilies for diets can be any type of peppers. Bell peppers, cayenne peppers etc. can be used in a salad while chili paste can be used as both salad/ pasta sauce.
Ever noticed how the chili effect works? You consume extra spice from the chilies and immediately you feel this burning sensation in your mouth. You might even feel it all over your body.
Turns out, the burning sensation of the chilies dilates your blood vessels thus improving circulation in your body. As a result, you may see an increase of brightness in your skin complexion as a result of circulation after you consume chilies.
Dr. Schultze who has been treating heart patients for over 35 years swears by giving cayenne tea to his patients to reduce post-op risks and strokes. Since the spice dilates blood vessels, it greatly helps in reducing the risk of strokes and preventing one. You can follow the same in your routine thrice or four times a week to equip your body against strokes.
For men, maintaining good prostate health is really important. Since chilies are filled with antioxidants, they are excellent for maintaining a healthy prostate. The effect of chilies even helps in preventing cancer. By preventing cell degeneration with its anti-aging process, chilies can be included in your diet to prevent a variety of degenerative diseases.
Improves Lung Health
Chilies have been linked to several lung health articles. Though the exact mechanism is not concluded, a study conducted between smokers who consumed spicy food and smokers who didn’t consume spicy food showed that smokers had lesser damage to their lungs when they consumed more chilies.
If you are living in a polluted area, you could rely on chilies for maintaining good lung health.
Chilies have been known to have anti-inflammatory properties. As ironic as it sounds, they have also been known to have anti-bacterial properties. Cleansing your stomach naturally is an excellent idea if you want to maintain a balanced level of good bacteria in your stomach.
This could go a long way in preventing stomach flu and infections. If you are prone to the stomach flu and infections from food, increasing your spice consumption with chilies could be your way of prevention.
Capsaicin is also a thermogenic compound and increases the metabolic rate, thus aiding in the fat burning process. Chili oil is used in anti-cellulite creams and it was proven to be very effective. I actually tried it myself and I was amazed.
You can prepare chili oil at home. Choose a base oil (preferably cold pressed – I used olive oil) and add a couple of chopped dry chilies. Pour the content into a small bottle and place it in a cool, dry place. Leave it there for about 2 weeks then start using it.
Origin of Chilies
Chilies were first identified in days as old as 7000 BC. Back then, chili was majorly cultivated in Mexico and was a spice that was strictly restricted to Mexican cuisine. This simple fact explains so much about how we think of Mexican cuisine as spicy, but there is more.
When travelers started going on expeditions around the globe, they started carrying exotic items from various countries to be given as “gifts” to the countries they visited. Christopher Columbus is said to have brought chilies from Mexico with him to America, thus introducing the spice to Americans.
Columbus had also planned to cruise from Spain to India in order to bring exotic spices back to his home country. However, he had mistaken America for India, thus also mistaking chilies for black pepper. That is how the name chili pepper originated in parts of the world.
When the spice was introduced in Spain, it soon made its way into Spanish cuisine, quickly becoming a vital ingredient in many Spanish foods. When it spread to the rest of European countries, it made it the most crucial ingredient in any European delicacy. What was once an exotic spice became a part and parcel of European cuisine, even so much as to replace some ingredients in the tradition of cooking.
When Vasco Da Gama set sail from Portuguese, he carried the pungent spice with him to India. Soon the spice reached Indian shores and was largely cultivated. In the late 1800s, the experiments on cross-breeding chilies began. By 1906, a new breed of chili known as the Anaheim was developed. As years passed, more new breeds started making their way into the Mexican breed. Today, there are as many as 400 varieties of Chillies available all over the world.
The strongest chili, the spiciest and pungent in nature is said to be determined by a given parameter. Based on these tests and parameters, the “Naga Jolokia” a breed of chili cultivated in Assam, India was declared the spiciest chili in the world. When Chili was introduced in India, it soon made its way into Ayurvedic medicine where chili’s medicinal properties were used to treat indigestion and stimulate endorphins to act as painkillers.
Today, it is almost unimaginable to think of Indian cuisine without the spice. India is also the leading exporter of chili with ratios of 25% contributing to Chili produce in the world. Apart from Indian cuisine, American cuisine includes various Chili dishes with red meat or other meats and is used by many to serve every day or as a party dish. With various types of chilies being used in different Chili varieties today, spicy food is not an uncommon favorite. All 400 varieties of chilies are circulated all over the world and are used by many to treat common health concerns.
How can I incorporate chilies into my food?
There are several recipes that include chili as a good base and provide a considerable amount of benefits. Here is a list of Chili recipes that you could try out:
Chili Con Carne
Texans and international chili lovers swear by this dish to provide their dose of chilies. Prepared with lots of beef, spices, peppers and nothing more, this chili dish is a delight. You may add some tomatoes and onions if you want to alter the original recipe to an extent but green beans are a big no. Also, do not try to incorporate this into a pasta dish because this Texas Chili is best tasted in its original form.
You can easily veganize it by using soy granules instead of beef!
Who said chilis can only be made with red chilies? This version of a chili with green ones will blow your mind. Get the freshest produce of local Hatch peppers and cook them with chunks of pork (or chunks of soy for a vegan-friendly version) on a low flame. Additionally, you may also make the dish in a slow cooker to really bring out the flavor of all the spices.
This preparation can look soft on the tongue but don’t let the color trick you, because this is still a mean preparation of chilies on a plate. Usually made with shredded turkey or chicken, you can add pale cannellini beans, jalapenos and poblanos as well as throw in some chili powder to taste. Slow cook or not, this recipe will manage to impress your guests too.
Rocky Mountain Chili
This dish has a different combination of ingredients but is nonetheless a good chili variety. Throw in some ground elk or beef along with a deeply cooked and thoroughly flavored stew of chipotles, coffee and chocolate. Perfect dish if you want the mixture of some spice and something nice on your plate. Again, you can replace the ground meat with some textured soy protein and healthy, delicious meal.
Consisting of tonnes of cheese and carbs, this is the fun version of a serious chili. With spaghetti, onions, shredded cheddar (shameless amounts of it) and oyster cracker garnish, you will simply love this dish on game day or just any other lazy day staying in.