By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach
It's the season for fresh chilli which is great news for those of you who love these fiery hot peppers. And for those who like them, the good news is that unless you have a stomach ulcer or digestive problems, chillis are very good for you.
What makes chillis hot is also what makes them so good for us and it's a substance called capsaicin. Capsaicin is found predominantly in the inner lining of the chilli where the seeds attach and has been proven to assist in weight loss, pain relief and protect against cancer. More recent studies have found that regularly consuming foods with capsaicin may help people live longer, and protect against coronary heart disease and diabetes.
A study conducted by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences tracked the health of nearly half a million participants in China for several years. They found that participants who said they ate spicy food once or twice a week had a mortality rate 10% lower than those who ate spicy food less than once a week. Risk of death reduced still further for hot-heads who ate spicy food six or seven days a week.
The degree of heat in chilli is dependent on the amount of capsaicin and is measured in Scoville heat units. The Scoville rating or 'hotness' of fresh chillies is obviously dependent on the variety of chilli plant but even within one particular variety the hotness can vary greatly. Factors influencing the heat of a fresh chilli include growing temperature, hours of sunlight, moisture, soil chemistry, and the type and amount of fertilizer used.
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