Chilli (Chillies) Health Benefits
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Did you know that chillies give us more than flavour? We all know that spices, seasonings and chillies are used worldwide to create a huge diversity of delicious culinary cultures. However, scientists have just shown that they also have added health benefits. Eating spicy foods several times a week is associated with lower mortality.
In a large long-term study, scientists have shown that people who eat spicy foods at least several times a week have a 14% reduced risk of death compared to those who eat spicy foods less than once a week. Interestingly, fresh and dried chillies have the same benefits. So what exactly are the health benefits of chillies? Read on to find out.
Capsaicin is the main compound in chillies that gives them their taste and health benefits. It may come as a surprise, but chillies are rich in antioxidants that can soothe digestive issues such as diarrhoea, cramps and intestinal gas. Chillies reduce the acidity in your digestive tract that causes stomach ulcers. Furthermore, they also help to produce saliva which stimulate gastric juices and work against the acidity in your digestive system.
Chillies can also speed up your metabolism by generating the thermogenic processes in your body that generate heat. This process uses up energy and burns calories. Additionally, chillies can alter proteins in your body to fight fat accumulation. By speeding up your metabolism, this helps to curb cravings.
Capsaicin has fantastic pain relief properties, and is often an ingredient in heat creams. It binds with pain receptors to cause a burning sensation which desensitises your pain receptors over time. As well as joint pain relief, chillies are also effective in reducing headaches and migraines, shingles and HIV neuropathy.
Chillies are great for your heart health. These little powerhouses are high in potassium, an important mineral for your body. It helps to dilate your blood vessels and when combined with folate, it can reduce your chances of heart disease. Chillies also contain niacin which helps to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol and prevents excessive blood clotting.
The capsaicin in chillies contain anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting substance P, a neuropeptide responsible for inflammation in the body. Because of this, capsaicin is an effective treatment for sensory nerve disorders such as diabetic neuropathy, psoriasis and arthritis.
As well as anti-inflammatory properties, the capsaicin in chillies also contain antioxidants. According to the American Association for Cancer Research, the antioxidants are effective in killing cancer cells in leukaemia and prostate cancer patients, while leaving normal cells unharmed. Studies also show that consuming large amounts of chillies can help prevent breast, pancreatic and bladder cancer.
There’s a reason why chillies are bright red—they are rich in beta-carotene or pro-vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for your immune system, and is key in maintaining a healthy respiratory, intestinal and urinary system. Chillies also contain vitamin C which helps build a stronger immune system. Those with allergies may benefit from a capsaicin nasal spray which helps to relieve symptoms. Moreover, chillies are prized for their anti-fungal properties by killing food pathogens and bacteria. Regular consumption of chillies can fight off as many as 16 fungal strains, and help to cure inflammatory bowel diseases.