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Chili is just one of the many spices that have recently become a key element in people's pantry. Whether it's for its spicy taste or rumored health benefits, people choose chili to accompany their meals. The question now is which impacts it has on your health and whether you should keep it in your diet or remove chili from your daily consumptions.
The use of chili in all types of recipes has exponentially increased in the last few years. It's used in vegan tacos, roasted vegetables, and detox soups, as well as in seemingly unconventional recipes like chocolate and chili ice cream. The reasons for chili's recent popularity isn't just because of its taste, but also for its possible health benefits.
To begin with, it's important to understand why chili tastes the way it does. Its main component is called capsaicin, an active ingredient whose molecules interact with temperature receptors in the body. The result is a signal that's triggered and causes the brain to boost a feeling of heat.
This component was studied repeatedly in order to check its effects on people's health. The research concluded in a positive resolution towards chili, explaining that many of its benefits related to the impact of chili on weight can be traced back to capsaicin.
In essence, scientists associated capsaicin with a lower appetite and increased energy burning. In other words, this component reduces the body's feelings of hunger, so you feel fewer cravings, and makes your body burn more energy. This can all lead to obesity prevention, as you'll be tempted to eat less food and you'll use your energy faster.
To back this up, there was published in 2015 research done in China that showed other health benefits of regular chili consumption. Including this spice on daily meals lowered the participant's risks of death a 14% when compared to those people who included chili in their meals up to once a week.
In addition to this, there was a study done in Italy in 2019 that compared the health of people with a diet rich in chili peppers, used as a seasoning on food four times per week, with another group who didn't eat any. Even when variables such as smoking, diet, and exercise were controlled, the group with higher chili consumption had a lower risk of death!
These lowered risks of death are usually specific to heart disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases, and the results were associated with long-term effects. This means that you may not be able to check these benefits immediately after increasing your daily chili intake.
The reasons for these results are commonly associated with capsaicin, the same component that gives chili its spicy flavor. This element is linked to anti-inflammatory effects and improved cholesterol levels in the blood, as well as the other benefits mentioned above.
However, it's necessary to take into account that these results are mostly observational, with research done in labs and compared to studies carried out in groups of people. The end results can therefore be directly or indirectly linked to higher chili consumption.