Posted on 30th August 2016
If used right, a sprinkling of chilli can take a great dish to the next level. The fruits of capsicum pepper plants, chilli peppers are famous for their incredibly hot, zingy flavour. They help bring out other flavours within a dish and really give your tastebuds a proper workout.
Let's talk about their heat...
Their name can be a bit misleading. Chilli peppers can be incredibly hot – though not all of them are. Chilli peppers are a member of the nightshade family, which means they're related to everyday peppers and tomatoes. Capsaicin is their main bioactive plant compound – and it's this guy that's responsible for their uniquely pungent, hot taste and many of their health benefits.
So why are chillis so good for you?
They're very high in antioxidant carotenoids and vitamin C. Studies on capsaicin suggest it may also promote weight loss, by reducing appetite and increasing fat burning. That's why some people add some chilli to their breakfast in the morning (it goes wonderfully with avocados on toast) – because it can help kick-start the metabolism. That might also explain why the pairing of cocoa + chilli works so well!
If you're trying to reduce the heat of your chilli, scrape the seeds out before chopping it up and adding it to a dish. A lot of the heat is held in the seeds, so ridding yourself of these really will help. Though remember to wash your hands properly after you've chopped it up. It can be pretty painful otherwise...