Some people like spicy food. I am one of these people. I enjoy the sensation of my tongue burning, my gums feeling like they are on fire. It’s almost as though the meal is an event that I must endure and survive. In a very weird way it’s kind of fun to eat really spicy food and see if you can handle the burning sensation in your mouth.
Spicy food has been a large part of many cultures for generations. In India hot curries are a delicacy and in many ways the hotter the better. There are many Mexican dishes that would be far too spicy for the average person and in America they have chili fairs where men and women test their abilities to handle the heat.
Chili peppers may also have many benefits to you, your training and your health. They are not only a useful ingredient to add to certain dishes. They actually pose many benefits to health in a number of different ways.
One of the most useful aspects of chili peppers is the fact that they are thermogenic. Chili peppers raise body temperature significantly in most people. This will allow the body to become a fat burning furnace and the increased heat energy must come from somewhere. That somewhere is calories. Studies have shown that ingesting spicy food and chili peppers has been shown to burn or oxidize fat more efficiently. This means that due to chili peppers low calorie content and ability to increase fat burning they are an incredibly useful addition to a fat loss diet. A medium chili will provide:
(% of recommended daily intake)
240% of vitamin-C (Ascorbic acid),
39% of vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine),
32% of vitamin A,
13% of iron,
14% of copper,
7% of potassium,
but no cholesterol.
They are also useful on a fat loss diet for adding a bit of excitement to an otherwise bland daily meal plan.
There are many other health benefits of the chili pepper rather than just aiding fat loss. The key ingredient capsaicin is what gives the chili pepper its spicy characteristics. Early laboratory studies on experimental mammals suggest that capsaicin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties.
They are also rich in anti-oxidants that help fight free radicals like:
flvonoids like beta carotene
There are many ways in which you can cook with chilli peppers. A good recipe that I like to use on low calorie diets is:
For the pak choi
- 200ml/7fl oz chicken stock
- 75ml/3fl oz plum sauce
- 25g/1oz butter
- 1 garlic clove, sliced
- 4 heads pak choi, cut in half lengthways
For the salsa
- 2 ripe mangoes, peeled, diced
- 2 red chillies, finely diced
- ½ red onion, finely diced
- ½ cucumber, deseeded, diced diced
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh corriander
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
For the dressing
For the tuna
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
- For the pak choi, place the stock, plum sauce, butter and garlic into an ovenproof pan and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat until the mixture is barely simmering, then remove the pan from the heat. Add the pak choi and cover with tin foil. Place the pan into the oven for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, for the salsa, place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined.
- In a separate bowl whisk together all the dressing ingredients and add this to the salsa.
- For the tuna, rub both sides with oil and season well. Heat a heavy-based frying pan and fry the tuna for two minutes on each side (for medium), or until cooked to your liking.
- To serve, sit two pieces of pak choi on a place per serving, place a tuna steak on top and spoon over the salsa.
So give chilli peppers a try. Whether you are trying to drop fat or just include some healthy ingredients into your cooking, spice up your meals and enjoy the healthy rewards.