Energy – The incredible health benefits of eating chillies
Posted on July 30th, 2013

Dr Hector Perera     London

According to Luke Carter, a clinical nutritionist there are plenty of healths benefits by eating chillies. Many people eat chillies in different forms but not many people are aware of the scientific reasons and the health benefits of eating chillies. I have seen in some TV cooking programmes some chefs just add either dried or raw chillies but not explained any benefits of eating chillies that is why I thought to give some scientific  reasons for eating chillies. The Health benefits of eating chillies are well documented but surprisingly little known, despite the many numerous and profound ways in which they are known to aid, relieve and prevent many conditions.

Feeling hot hot hot

The main component in chillies is a chemical called Capsaicin, [8-Methyl-N-vanillyl-trans-6-nonenamide] which is responsible for the intense heat felt. It’s a too complicated structure to draw and not an easy name to pronounce. There are other names but this is the IUPAC accepted name.

But what else does Capsaicin do?
Lowers Blood Sugar Levels

Eating chillies can have a very positive impact on people that are overweight or suffer from diabetes, say a team of researchers at The University of Tasmania, whose research was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, in July 2006.
The study carried out yielded that the normal eating of chillies can help significantly control insulin levels after eating a meal. The actual data they collected was able to show that after eating chillies, the amount of insulin needed to lower the body’s blood sugar level following a meal was reduced by a staggering 60%. The exact way in which chillies act to reduce the need of insulin by this amount is not fully understood yet, but it certainly spells good news for people who have diabetes, as the effects produced by consuming a low amount of chilli are easy to achieve in everyday cooking.

Hot and spicy but taste nice

I have seen how our servants back home in Sri Lanka cooked various dishes with red chillies ground together with other spices. They are highly experienced in these preparations due to years of practical experience, not by looking into any cookery books or influenced by TV cooking programmes.  When red chillies, onions, curry leaves and mustard seeds are fried together and added to red lentil curry, it tastes delicious. Fried red chillies are eaten with meals because they taste just nice with rice and curries as someone said, they are “ƒ”¹…”rice pullers’. There are numerous ways of adding and using red chillies as whole and ground form.

Some Sri Lankan hot and spicy foods

Some Sri Lankans eat coconut “ƒ”¹…”sambol’ with string hoppers and “ƒ”¹…”kiri hodi’, may be a traditional breakfast to reduce sugar level, I never know. The other one is “ƒ”¹…”katta sambol’ with hoppers, the combination taste quite tasty but try with caution. Have I got to say any more about things like, “ƒ”¹…”seeni sambol’, fried dry fish with onions and chillies? Have you tried green “ƒ”¹…”sambol’ made by green chillies that goes well with “ƒ”¹…”wadae’! Not everyone can tolerate the taste of “ƒ”¹…”kohchi sambol’. How about the traditional onion and green chillies pickle?

Other benefits of eating chillies

Often overlooked as circulation boosters, chillies can have a dramatic impact on your health by helping to boost circulation and also act as a thinner to help protect against strokes. Eating food with chillies every day is all you need to do to enjoy the multiple and important health benefits they have to offer. Sri Lankans usually cook chicken, beef or pork or even vegetable curries as well with chillies, I think some of the reasons should be as mentioned above. These TV chefs must understand and explain while cooking why some ingredients such as chillies are added in cooking. Most of the times, they just add this and that without any explanation.

Provides Pain Relief & Reduces Inflammation

Capsaicin is well known to contain a Neuropeptide associated with the inflammatory process. Chilli related alterations in plasma proteins have been reported in patients with auto-inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid and arthritis.
The regular intake of chillies can help to minimise the effects these diseases have on the body.

Capsaicin is currently used in topical ointments, nasal sprays, as well as a high-dose dermal patch, to relieve the pain of peripheral neuropathy such as post-herpetic neuralgia caused by shingles.
Capsaicin has also been found to provide effective pain relief without the numbing effect usually associated with anaesthetics, and the inability in some cases, to operate machinery, along with the usual sedative effects some Painkillers cause.
Researchers at Harvard University recently announced that they believe Capsaicin can be used to target pain receptors, without affecting nerve cells and causing the side effects mentioned above, which is a big plus.
Real world uses for the compound might include: treating pain caused by child birth, providing effective pain relief during dental procedures without the side effects of numbness all day, enabling the patient to carry on with their daily tasks straight away, without delay.
Many painkillers currently in use today affect mental alertness, and the ability of a patient to function properly while the drugs are being administered. Capsaicin could provide a safe alternative to the unpleasant and inconvenient side effects associated with other painkillers.

Acts as a Therapeutic & Relaxant

Many studies now reveal that chillies can have a therapeutic effect on the body, allowing one to relax more easily.
Capsaicin blocks a natural chemical called substance P, which is involved in the transmission and perception of pain. As a result chillies can be useful in relieving and preventing common problems such as headaches, migraines and discomfort caused by sinus problems, allowing a person to relax more easily. I know when red chillies are used for tempering, the vapour when inhaled accidentally gets you a runny nose, sneezing and coughing, you mean that relives headache?
Capsaicin also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which lend themselves perfectly to the relief of conditions such as irritable bowel, neuropathy caused by the onset of diabetes and psoriasis. This is an immune-mediated disease that affects the skin. It is typically a lifelong condition. There is currently no cure, but various treatments can help to control the symptoms.In plaque psoriasis, skin rapidly accumulates at these sites and this is somewhat similar to eczema.

Helps Clear Congestion

No doubt you would have noticed the almost immediate relief of congestion, after eating a good hot curry if you have a cold.
Chillies are great at quickly and effectively opening your nasal passages, allowing you to breathe more easily, although this is probably a side effect of preparing you for the panting following a particularly hot one!

It is probably fair to say, in conclusion, that any problems associated with eating chillies, were found in cases where the intake was so high as to be excessive, and as we all know, too much of anything can be bad for you.

Other Health Benefits
Chillies Help to Burn Fat

Capsaicin is also a thermogenic compound, and increases the metabolic rate, which aids in the fat burning process. Studies reveal that eating chillies can raise your metabolic rate by up to 23% for about 3 hours.

Eating Chillies has recently been shown to lower cholesterol, and to reduce the amount of fibrin in the blood, and as a result, lower the blood’s tendency to clot. Two Australian studies provide more good news: One discovered that adding chillies to meals may protect against the build up of cholesterol in the blood. The Doctors are recommending a medicine called statin as a miracle cure for high levels of cholesterol, and indeed while they do often work, many are concerned about their side effects and would rather seek a natural alternative.
Thankfully chilli is proving itself to be a natural alternative to statins, one which is highly effective in reducing weight and lowering levels of cholesterol in the blood stream. Your comments are welcomed [email protected]

 

4 Responses to “Energy – The incredible health benefits of eating chillies”

  1. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    HELLO DOCTOR ! The benefits of eating Avu Miris in green or dried form was reflected in the AARP magazine, about 10 years ago, depicting a green chilli and a red chilli. Here in USA it is commonly referred to as Cayenne Pepper.

    I have my own chilli plants, and I dry the Red ones for tempering etc. With about five~5~ plants, I have enough chilli for cooking. In the AARP magazine it was stated that Cayenne Pepper ( Avu Miris) keeps you from aging. With that in mind, I think I increased my intake. Just now, please do not ask my age. After next November I will let you know.

    Iam so happy that you brought about an awareness, about eating Avu Miris in whatever form.

  2. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    AARP is ~~~AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF RETIRED PERSONS.

  3. Ratanapala Says:

    Good Doctor, Please say something on the effects chillies could have on the stomach. Can they cause stomach burn and later ulcers? Quite surprisingly I have read recently that Cayenne Pepper is good for eliminating Helicobacter pylori, or H.pylori, bacteria which is the main cause of peptic ulcers.

    The other question is – Is Cayenne Pepper – our normal Amu Miris although there are many varieties of it. Thank you.

  4. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    YES RATANAPALA ! Cayenne Pepper is our normal AVU MIRIS. Yet, there are many varieties of it, changing in size. The larger sizes are not that pungent. I use Miracle Gro, and the trees are abundant with fairly big peppers, and also fairly strong. Identical to our normal Avu Miris.

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