Different colors, sizes and forms of chillies (or chilli peppers) find an unbeatable presence in varied cuisines across the continents. Usually admired as a culinary gem, chillies are also abound with incredible therapeutic properties and well documented health benefits.
Whether it is the green chilli, dried red chillies, paprika, jalapeno or cayenne pepper, they all exhibit positive impact on many body processes and aid in disease prevention. The integral component called ‘capsaicin’ is responsible for the characteristic hotness and also its multitude benefits.
- Green chillies – Green chillies are mainstay in our curries, chutneys and vegetable dishes. The fresh ones are rich in Vitamin C (almost five times more vit C than in an Orange), B and E and also in iron and potassium.
The capsaicin helps in release of endorphins ( mood boosters), improves blood circulation ( by thinning clots) and clear blocked nasal passages. Besides being low in calories and sodium, green chillies also contain good amounts of folic acid and omega 6 fatty acids which work to reduce the risk to heart diseases. Eating chillies is linked with better insulin regulation and diabetes management.
- Bell Peppers– The red, yellow and green bell peppers or capsicums render more than a colorful and tantalizing touch to salads and stir frys. They are rich in phyto chemicals (the strong antioxidant activity helps to fight cancers), fiber (good for digestive health) and vitamin A and E (prevent vision and heart problems). Bell peppers are also good sources of Vitamin C and B6 which help to improve metabolism and immunity.
- Jalapeno– Pickled jalapenos show better levels of capsaicin (and thus better free radical scavenging attributes) than fresh jalapenos and green peppers or capsicum. A common feature in Mexican dishes like tacos and nachos, these small but mighty jalapeno chillies add ample vitamin C, K and potassium to the meal. The piquancy added makes the dish spicier and brings satiety faster thus helping in weight loss.
- Cayenne– Cayenne pepper diet is quite popular amongst dieters for eliminating toxins, charging up the hormone levels and perking up the energy levels. The hot and zesty cayenne pepper is being studied for its potent calorie burning, inflammation fighting, heat generating and arthritic pain relieving activity.
A word of caution– For people with sensitive stomachs, IBS or bleeding ulcers, eating too much of chillies or spicy foods may cause stomach discomforts.