To Spice or Not to Spice: Can Chilli Improve Your Health?

To Spice or Not to Spice: Can Chilli Improve Your Health?

Susana Aguilera

There is some sort of charm in spicy food we cannot resist. Take for example Indian cuisine, the result of its unique spiciness comes from a complex combination of spices that enhance flavour and colour in any dish, making it irresistible (to master this cuisine sign up for one of our Indian cooking classes in Melbourne). So why do we really enjoy that hot feeling on our palate? Spicy food is more popular in the warm regions, and there’s a reason behind it. We are likely to sweat when eating this type of food and through perspiring we maintain our body's heat balance which creates a cooling off effect. 

Beyond the effect that spicy food may have on our body, let’s think about the psychological reasons that motivates us to eat it. It can be summed up to our will of challenging ourselves. As humans we like to risk, take things to the limit and test ourselves to prove what we are capable of. We can also enjoy spicy food subconsciously because its benefits act like a pain killer, in other words that characteristic burning effect of spicy food can help us cease pain.

 

Are hot peppers bad for our health?

As everything in our lives, the key is moderation. Eating chillies have been associated with cognitive diseases as dementia, but there are not enough studies to prove that they might affect cognitive decline. Health issues can come when consuming more than 50 grams per day regularly, it would also depend on the person’s health condition, weight and age; and is important to pay attention to the signs of your body as well. As we said before everything is all about moderation and balance, besides most of us don't go with the extreme hot peppers varieties anyway.  

 

On the contrary, do spicy foods help prevent cognitive diseases?

Maintaining blood pressure is essential to keeping us sharp and helping us to age well. Multiple studies have shown that eating chillies and spicy food in proper amounts are good for weight control and blood pressure. This is thanks to the fact that capsaicin, the active component, activates a channel called vanilloid that is found in the lining of blood vessels. When activated nitric oxide is produced, this gaseous molecule helps with the proper functioning of the blood vessels and protects them against inflammation. Then, the consumption of spicy food along with keeping active and having a balanced diet will help us prevent to suffer from cognitives diseases like memory loss and Alzheimers, the most common type of dementia.

 

The myths surrounding the consumption of chilli 

It can cause you an ulcer:

False. Ulcers are mainly cause by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria and anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, in some cases. Although spicy food could irritate your bowel, studies show that actually capsaicin stimulates gastric mucosal blood flow, helping to heal and prevent stomach injuries and ulcers.

It kills your taste buds:

False. The effect that strong peppers produce is just temporary. The numb feeling your tongue experiments is a natural response of your body’s defence mechanism, just like when you touch something hot. 

It helps you to lose weight:

50-50. Capsaicin increases metabolism temporarily helping to burn calories, but in a small amount. 

It has antimicrobial effects: 

True. Capsaicin has antimicrobial properties, this is the reason why peppers can work as food preservatives. 

 

The key is moderation

The truth is spices can improve and level up any dish, being even the signature of a lot of delicious cuisines around the world. Whether you would like to learn how to prepare the aromatic Thai food, the famous fermented and spicy dishes from the Korean cuisine or the traditional Sri Lankan curry, you can experiment all the benefits and safely enjoy spicy food in moderation.

 

Experiment with spice at some of our hands on cooking classes in Melbourne:

When we think about hot peppers, Mexican cuisine comes to mind. Did you know that there are over 150 chilli varieties in Mexico? We link chillies with that hot feeling, but some peppers are not even spicy at all and there are different heat levels. Beyond their heating level, chillies add flavour thanks to their sweet, smoky, fruity or earthy properties. A great way to discover the wide range of unique flavours this rich cuisine has to offer and how to master it is by taking an authentic Mexican cooking class in Melbourne
 

 

Traditional Thai Cooking Class

Salty, sweet, tangy and sour flavours harmoniously combined for a feast that your taste buds will love! The challenge? Getting the right balance. Nail it at our fun and hands-on Thai Cooking Class. This class is held in a cosy and friendly setting by home-taught cooks who will share all their secrets, tricks and tips as if you were part of their family. Learn what makes this cuisine special and prepare traditional and family style homemade Thai dishes. Savour a delicious meal and leave the workshop fully packed with all the recipes to keep your kitchen with irresistible aromas.

 

Korean Cooking Class

Korean dishes always deliver a complete flavour experience full of textures and fresh ingredients, accompanied with characteristic sauces and garnishes. This Korean Cooking Class will take you on a culinary journey like no other. Prepare five traditional dishes along with an experienced chef from Korea, who will give demonstrations and share all his secrets with you in a fun and casual workshop. To finish, you will all sit together to enjoy a tasty Korean meal, prepared by you, with a glass of sparkling wine. Enjoy a social and hands-on class and get access to all the recipes to keep savouring and mastering this cuisine at home. 

 

Traditional Sri Lankan Cooking Class

Your Sri Lankan teacher will make this Sri Lankan Cooking Class an incredibly unique cooking experience, where you will learn all the secrets of this traditional cuisine full of herbs and aromatic spices. You will be preparing homemade flavoursome dishes that are shared at the tables of Sri Lankan families daily. An intimate and informal session full of aroma, laughter, new friends and family recipe secrets will be passed on to you. At the end, you will enjoy a well-deserved family-style feast cooked by you and you will leave with all the recipes to keep preparing these special dishes at home.

 

 

 References

1) bbc.com

2) businessinsider.com

3) forbes.com

4) henryford.com

5) medicalnewstoday.com

6) nypost.com

7) telegraph.co.uk

8) time.com

9) theculturetrip.com

10) today.com

11) uchicagomedicine.org





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