Over the years there have been many different views on the effects that regular chilli consumption can have on the the human body. This article attempts to summarise some of the main areas of discussion that have emerged over the last few years
Lower blood sugar
Research publishes in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (July 2006) suggests the regular consumption of chillies can help your body control insulin levels after eating which could benefit the overweight or diabetics.
As part of the study candidates followed a diet high in chilli content and had lower blood glucose levels than those eating a bland spice free diet. The author of the study Kiran Ahuja said "Chilli meals possibly result in lower C-peptide and insulin secretion and higher hepatic clearance of insulin, and the effect is larger if chilli is eaten regularly."
Capsaicin, the substance that give chilies their heat is well known to contain a neuropeptide associated with the inflammatory process. Chilli related alterations in plasma proteins have been reported in patients with auto inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid and arthritis. So next time you fall and bruise, maybe rub a little chilli onto the wound!
Congestion / Sinus issues
Now you do not have to be a scientist to work this one out. If you eat a dish loaded with hot chillies the heat from the capsaicin causes secretions, or in other words sweating and a runny nose, that help clear the nasal passage.
Opinion seems divided as to whether chillies help prevent or cause stomach cancer.
Researchers at Yale University of Medicine concluded in 1994 that chili pepper consumption may cause increased risk of stomach cancer. Compared to nonconsumers of chili peppers, consumers had an increased risk of stomach cancer (odds ratio 5.49; 95%). Among consumers, there was a highly significant trend of increasing risk with increasing self-rated level of chili pepper consumption (high, medium, or low). That said the study said that "definite conclusion is not warranted" because there was no assessment of dose relationship.
A Berkley neurobiology study however found the opposite to be true. They concluded that capsaicin/chillie consumption to be "protective against stomach cancer". They pointed to the fact that the gastric cancer rates in Mexico, where chilli peppers consumption is particularly high, are relatively low> they also noted the correlation between increased chilli consumption in the USA and falling rates of gastric cancer.
Perhaps rather predictably there is no clear answer to the question 'are chillies good for you?'. As with all things I'm sure they are beneficial in some ways and detrimental in others. My advice would be to stop worrying and get cooking!Health Benefits Of Chillies