Chilli Facts

Her are some facts about Chillies:

Red or Green Chillies
Very often we see red and green variations of a chilli in supermarkets. As an example, we often see green and red Jalapeños. These are in fact one and the same variety and not different varieties as many people often think. Red Jalapeõs are in fact just fully ripened chillies. The reason chillies are often sold as green and red is that in a culinary context, the flavours are different. Apart from the colour, red (fully ripened) Jalapeños are sweeter and fruitier than their green unripened samples.

The hottest part of a chilli is the seeds
This is a common misconception. The seeds of a chilli are not the hottest part of a chilli. Capsaicin is the chemical compund that makes chillies burn. There is very little if any Capsaicin in the seeds of a chilli. The hottest parts of a chilli are in fact the Placenta and the Endocarp (inner lining of the chilli wall). The Placenta is the white pongy pith in the centre of the chilli that the seeds are attached to. The Placenta is also referred to as the oil gland or the Capsaicin gland. This is where the highest concentration of Capsaicin is found in the chilli and thus is in fact the hottest part of a chilli.

Chillies are GOOD for you
Much research is being focused on the humble chilli and its benefits. Quite to the contrary, many medical professionals will agree that chillies are in fact excellent and have many good benefits. The condition being, like most things in life - everything in good moderation. Here are some of those:

1) High in Vitamin C Your average chilli has as much Vitamin C as 4 oranges. They have in fact one of the highest concentrations of Vitamin C which is vital for maintining the body's scar tissue, blood vessels and cartilage. Vitamin C is also necessary for creating ATP, dopamine, peptide hormones, and tyrosine. As a powerful antioxidant, chillies lessen oxidative stress to the body and is believed to lower cancer risk.

2) High in Vitamin A Chillies are one of the highest concentrations in Vitamin A which is required for vision, gene transcription, boosting immune function and great skin health.

3) Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease Research has shown that foods that are high in saturated fats, such as those found in red meat and dairy, can lead to the development of high cholesterol. Which in turn can result in cardiovascular disease and ultimately death. Capsaicin found in chillies has been found to be effective not only in reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but can also decrease platelet aggregation which often leads to blood clots.

4) Reduced inflammation Chillies have been shown to reduce inflammation such as that associated with arthritis. Chillies have also been shown to be effective pain reducers. The high levels of capsaicin in chillies are the main reason for this. Currently there are creams on the market that contain Capsaicin and are specifically effective for the treatment of arthritis, back pain and other similar conditions.

5) Lowers blood sugar levels Researchers at the University of Tasmania published findings in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (July 2006) that chillies can be very beneficial to people that are overweight or suffer from diabetes. They found that the normal eating of chillies can significantly control insulin levels after eating a meal.

6) Improves heart health, boosts circulation, thins blood and helps protect against strokes Chillies are natural antioxidants. Helping to boost circulation in your body and also act as a blood thinner, preventing strokes.

7) Provides pain relief and reduces inflammation Capsaicin is well known to contain a Neuropeptide associated with the infalmmetory process. Chillies have been reported to aid patients with auto-inflammetory diseases such as rheumatoid and arthritis.

In addition Capsaicin has also been found to provide pain relief without the numbing effects associated with other pain killers and anaesthetics. Capsaicin targets pain receptors on the body and does not have the sedative properties and side effects associated with other pain killers.

8) Help burn fat Research has shown that Capsaicin is a thermogenic compound that increases the metabolic rate, which aids in the fat burning process. Studies have revealed that chillies can raise your metabolic rate by up to 23% for about 3 hours.

9) Can help lower the risk of Stomach Cancer There are many opinions on this topic among medical professionals. Its a hotly debated topic.

Studies at Yale University of Medicine in 1994 concluded that chilli consumption may cause increased risk of stomach cancer. Their study conducted on test groups of chilli eating versus non chilli eating, showed increased risk of stomach cancer among the chilli eating groups. Among consumers there was a highly significant trend of increased self-rated level of chilli consumption (high, medium, low). This having been said, the study found that definite conclusion was not warranted as there was no assessment of dose relationship.

Another recent study by the Mexico National Institute of Public Health found higher rates of gastric cancer in people with high chilli intake (9-25 Jalapeños a day). But there was no clinical evidence that found that chillies were causing this increase in Cancer.

Recent surveys at Berkley concluded that Capsaicin/Chilli consumption to be protective against stomach cancer. They pointed to the fact that gastric stomach cancer rates in Mexico, where chilli consumption is particularly high, are relatively low. They also noted the correlation between increased chilli consumption in the US and falling rates of gastric cancer.

The incidence of stomach cancer is far less in South America, where they eat more chillies than in the US.

Scientists have also found that Capsaicin inhibits cancer cell growth.

In conclusion, it seems clear that everything in moderation is the rule of thumb. Too much of anything is a bad thing. While chillies have many benefits, over dosage - clearly - is never a good thing.

10) Limits spreading of Prostrate Cancer Cancer research published in 2006 concluded that Capsaicin helped stop the spread of prostrate cancer. The capsaicin found in chillies triggered suicide in both primary types of prostrate cancer cell lines. Furthermore, it was found to slow the development of prostrate tumors in mouse test trials.

The dosage on mice that produced these effects equates to 5 Habanero Chillies a week for an average adult.

11) Helps clear Congestion Nothing like hot spicy food to blow off those congestion blues. Chillies are a quick and effective way to open the nasal passages and clear congestion.

12) Acts as a Therapeautic & Relaxant Many studies now show that chillies have a Therpeautic effect on the body. Allowing the body to relax.

Capsaicin blocks a natural substance in the body called Substance P, which aids in the bodys tramission of pain. So chillies are great for relieving and preventing headaches, migraines and discomfort caused by sinus problems. This all goes to aiding relaxation.

Capsaicin also has antibacterial and antiinflammatory properties, which help relieve conditions such as irritable bowel, neuropathy caused by diabetes and psoriasis.

13) Helps lower Cholesterol Chillies have been shown to lower cholesterol and to reduce the amount of Fibrin in the blood, lowering the bloods tendency to clot.

14) Improved digestive conditions For years medical professionals have been telling people suffering from acid reflux and ulcers to avoid chillies. But recent research has revealed that chillies may in fact important in reducing the occurrence of stomach ulcers.

15) Maintains bone health Research has found that chillies contain high amounts of calcium, which is important in maintaining strong bones and teeth. Chillies are a great alternative source of calcium suppliment for people who are lactose (milk) intollerant or who can not eat dairy.

Scraping out the seeds from a chilli makes it milder for cooking
Yes and No. This too is a misconception. Technically as explained above, the seeds have no heat, so removing the seeds alone from within the chilli does not make the chilli any milder. But usually when people remove the seeds from inside the chilli, they also scrape out the placenta or pith of the chilli that the seeds are attached to. It is in fact the removal of the placenta/pith that has made the chilli milder, not the removal of the seeds. Having said this, no one wants a mouth full of seeds in their food, so removing the seeds on some of the pods that have more seeds is not a bad thing to do. Just bear in mind that the heat of the chilli is in the placenta!

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