By Charlie Allen
Eating chilli is like marmite; you either love it or hate it. A survey was conducted to find out the truth about chilli. The results showed 80% of us do enjoy chilli we realise it has health benefits.
- One single chilli can provide us with seven times the amount of vitamin C found in one orange.
- Chillies also contain minerals such as potassium, which reduces heart rate and blood pressure, manganese, an anti-oxidant, iron, magnesium and Vitamin B complex groups B-6 and B-1.
- Lowers blood sugar levels
- Pain relief
- Can reduce inflammation
“Nearly all herbs and spices have some kind of nutritional function and property, although we use them now for pleasure, historically they are there mainly because of their functional qualities,” says Yvonne Bishop-Weston, a Nutritionist at The Food for Life, a network of schools and communities across England promoting healthy living.
Capsaicin is the ingredient in chilli which gives the kick many crave. It can also lower cholesterol and increases your metabolism which can help you lose those extra pounds. No wonder it’s popular. Phil Palmer, Dartmoor chilli farmer in Devon explains, “The market for hot products in this country is massive and is getting bigger every year. One reason could be that a dash of sauce livens up even the blandest of foods.”
“Chillies are addictive. When you eat a chilli, your brain releases endorphin’s into the bloodstream. Once it has worked out that you haven’t lost an arm and the pain and the capsaicin has subsided, you are left with a buzz which makes you feel better. It’s like chocolate.”
“Research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the UCLA School of Medicine say it possibly helps with treatment of prostrate cancer. But, we grow chilli because we love it,” says Palmer.
The heat of chilli is measured on a Scoville scale – sweet bell peppers falling at the bottom and those eye-watering scotch bonnets top of the scale.
According to the survey, over a quarter of the public like their food ‘hot’, whilst only 7% said they didn’t like any spice.
How to grow chilli
British chilli grower, Andy Mogg , who lives near the North Yorkshire coast, has been growing chillies in his greenhouse for over 10 years. “I first started when I was at university and my parents bought me a chilli plant. I kept it alive for a couple of years and got lots of chillies from it, after that I was hooked so started buying seeds online. I’ve never really used any growing enhancements, just a bit of tomato feed when the plants start to flower.”
He is passionate about the variety of peppers available to grow and eat, “My favourite last year was the habanero. It’s hot without being crazy and it adds a lovely fruity taste to dishes. By adding chilli to a dish you can really crank up the heat,” He is one of many in the UK growing chilli peppers as a hobby, accompanied by a blog with spicy recipes and pictures of his crop.
“It’s very easy really. Give your plants plenty of light and keep them warm and you can’t go far wrong.” However, there is one vital thing we need to grow out own chilli’s, “Being in the UK, it’s hard getting the chillies to ripen later in the year when there is no sunlight.”
Watch Celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver shows us how to prepare chilli when cooking:
But not all of us enjoy chilli in our food or as an ingredient to use in cooking. Chillies can have some harmful effects on our health too. They can often cause gastro-intestinal upset and stomach pain and if you have a long-term bowel and digestion condition, large amounts of it is not advised. Like most things in life, it is about balance and understanding what works well with our body and what doesn’t.
Want some chilli recipe ideas? Take a look below and post us your favourite spicy recipe.
Chilli Con Carne
(Serve with rice or in tortillas with a dollop of sour cream and guacamole)
Cooking Tip: Add a cube (don’t be tempted to add more) of dark or plain chocolate at the end of cooking. Let it melt and it will add a richness to the dish
1. Heat oil in large pan, and add chopped onions and red pepper. Cook until start to soften.
2.Add minced beef and cook until brown. Season well with salt and pepper.
3.Add tomatoes and tomato puree.
4. Add kidney beans, cumin, chilli and paprika. (ADD MORE CHILLI IF YOU DARE – BUT REMEMBER TO TASTE!)
5. Add beef stock and reduce heat and let simmer for 30-45 minutes.
7. Stir and serve hot.