Day of the Dead celebrations are here and for GYG that means the annual hot sauce challenge, Day of the Deadly Sauce.
In light of this we took a closer look at chillies and found out why these insanely hot sauces surprisingly, may be the exact opposite of deadly. Could the short-term pain have a long term gain?
Not so deadly sauce
While the scorching heat of the fiery scorpion and habanero peppers may make your eyes water, your nose run and your taste buds burn, did you know that eating chillies may actually help you live longer?
Research from both the U.S. and China has shown that people who eat chilli actually live longer than those who don’t. In fact, in the study from the U.S., chilli-eaters had a 12% lower risk of death than the non-chilli-eaters.
Researchers don’t know the exact reason for this association but, one theory is the benefit may come from a natural chemical in chilli called capsaicin. Capsaicin gives chillies their spicy or hot sensation. It has received a lot of attention for its potential health benefits including helping weight loss, reducing appetite, boosting metabolism and reducing inflammation.
The heat is on
The good news for the hardcore heat seekers out there is that the hotter the chilli the higher the capsaicin. The heat of a chilli is measured using the Scoville scale. Habaneros and scorpion peppers are some of the most capsaicin-rich chilies around with the Moruga Scorpion pepper measuring an eye watering 2,009,231 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) and the Red Savina Habaneros 500,000 SHU ranking them both in the top ten hottest chillies in the world.
While more research is needed to prove if eating chillies makes us live longer, what we do know for sure is, all chillies from jalapeños to habaneros are great way to add flavour to your food and offer proven benefits such as, reducing the need for added salt, providing beneficial plant chemicals like antioxidants and a source of good old fashioned vitamins and minerals such as, Vitamin C and potassium.
If you’re not used to eating chilli’s take it slow and start with milder varieties before cranking up the capsaicin and trying the likes of the habanero or scorpion peppers.
For more information on Day of the Deadly Sauce see here.