Chilli/red pepper is a spice few people can dare to include in their diet. It is generally used as a spice and can be eaten fresh from the garden or in powder form.
All peppers, including green chilli, belong to the capsicum genus of foods. The most widely available and commonly consumed capsicum peppers are bell peppers, cayenne peppers, and chilli peppers.
According to Sharon Naluwende, a nutritionist at Mulago Hospital, chillies have plenty of vitamins. Both sweet and hot chilli peppers are rich in vitamins A, C and E. she says one ounce (28g) of raw sweet pepper contains about 40mg of vitamin C, which is two-thirds of the recommended daily intake of that vitamin.
“However, chilli peppers and sweet peppers lose their vitamin content when cooked or if they are allowed to ripen too much,” she says.
According to a 2010 research, the heat generated by pepper can “oxidise layers of fat.” The research concluded that eating chilli can help dieters lose weight by raising their metabolism, burning away fat.
Studies published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2009, reveal that when people eat food spiced with chilli, they feel less hungry and eat significantly less at subsequent meals. One is also bound to drink more water making one satisfied.
Naluwende adds that capsaicin, a component in chilli, stimulates appetite, helps to clear the lungs, improves blood circulation and acts as a painkiller for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.
Once ingested, capsaicin causes the brain to release endorphins into the bloodstream, inducing a natural feeling of wellbeing similar to that achieved by long-distance runners.
Red hot chilli peppers have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol while increasing the body’s ability to dissolve fibrin, a substance integral to the formation of blood clots.
Societies, where hot peppers like cayenne are used liberally, have a much lower rate of heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism, researchers say.
Doctors and health practitioners advise people to avoid chilli if they suffer from acid reflux or stomach ulcers. But recently, researchers found that cayenne pepper may actually reduce the occurrence of stomach ulcers.
Peptic ulcers were formerly thought to be caused by stress, coffee consumption or spicy foods. However, research has made it clear that about 60% of peptic ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection that can usually be cured.