Chilli peppers might not immediately strike you as being healthy when you first eat one. Indeed they’ll probably more than a small burning sensation in your mouth and stomach, and if you’re not a fan of ‘spicy food’ this might feel a little bit like ingesting poison at first.
However despite first impressions, the good news for curry lovers is that chilli peppers actually do have a number of useful health benefits. Here we will look at a few of them, and hopefully you’ll find that next time they go down a little smoother.
Heart Rate and Metabolism
Eating chilli peppers can feel like an ordeal, and it seems like our heart feels the same way – speeding up its beats per minute and raising our metabolism as a result. The good news is that this then can help to strengthen our heart over time (being a muscle, it benefits from being pushed mildly) and at the same time help to burn fat and deliver more nutrients around our body.
In the short term then, chilli peppers will raise your heart rate and so your blood pressure might increase. However over a longer period chilli will actually reduce your blood pressure thanks to the inclusion of vitamin A and C and riboflavinoids which all help to improve blood pressure.
Chillies are high in a substance called capsaicin, which has many benefits including the ability to prevent inflammation.
Lowers Blood Sugar
Apparently chilli stimulates the release of insulin and is thus able to reduce blood sugar following a meal. The exact way that this works is not yet fully understood, but it may be of interest to diabetics who could benefit from using more in their cooking.
Several studies have suggested that chillies can be used as a muscle relaxant and help us to relax in the evening – and many of us will know from experience that chillies can leave us feeling very ‘chilled out’. Even more impressively, capsaicin can block a chemical known as ‘substance P’ which is connected to the perception of pain – so it may also be a useful anaesthetic.
Chilli contains antioxidants which combat free radicals in the body and so protect the cells from avoidable damage. At the same time though, chillies are particularly useful for combating prostate cancer again through the inclusion of the neuropeptide found in capsaicin, which has been shown to trigger the spontaneous death of prostate cancer cells and significantly slow the development of tumours.
At the same time chillies can potentially help to prevent stomach cancer – and several studies have shown a link between higher rates of chilli consumption and lower rates of stomach cancer. However the jury is still out as other studies have actually had opposite results…
We all know that our nose runs after eating chillies and hot food, and this is very useful if you happen to have a cold helping to dislodge and break up any congestion.