By Edeline Anne Goh
From appetizers such as grilled bell peppers or spicy chilli salsa dips, main courses such as tom yam and quesadillas, or even desserts such as chili ice cream and chili chocolate bars — the list is endless when it comes to how you can enjoy your peppers!
Peppers are actually part of the ‘fruit’ category though they are often mistaken as vegetables. They are usually spicy and can be found in bright colours — especially those from the capsicum family, which include bell peppers, chili peppers and jalapeno. Peppers add a wonderful hot zing to meals and are a staple ingredient in many authentic cuisines.
Rich in Antioxidants
Peppers add to your intake of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. Different coloured peppers contain different health benefits as they are associated with different types of phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are natural chemical compounds that are believed to have antioxidant capabilities and are responsible for the various elements that make up fruits or vegetables such as colour, texture or smell. So, there is no excuse as to why you shouldn’t indulge in colourful, wholesome peppers.
If you’re not a fan of spice, you could go for bell peppers, which are available in beautiful bright shades of green, red and yellow. Bell peppers exude a wonderful, sweet flavour and have a crispy, crunchy texture. However, if you’re up for a bit of a ‘spice’ challenge, jalapeno chillis or even bright red cayenne peppers are easily available for you to add to your meal.
Bursting with Vitamins
Be it mild or fiery hot, peppers are found to be rich in a variety of vitamins especially vitamins A and C. Vitamin A helps to preserve your eyesight whereas vitamin C helps to build your body’s immunity.
Other vitamins you can find in peppers include vitamin K, which improves bone health and beta-carotene, which has anti-ageing properties. The best part is, according to WebMD, a cup of peppers a day provides you the recommended daily dose of vitamins your body needs.
Research shows peppers that have capsaicin in them are likely to increase your metabolic rate. In fact it is believed that capsaicin-rich peppers have the same calorie burning effects as green tea and caffeine. How do you know if the pepper you are eating contains plenty of capsaicin? Well, the spicier the pepper, the higher amounts of capsaicin it contains!
For example, bell peppers have no capsaicin present while jalapeno has high amounts of it. However, do keep in mind that peppers can only compliment the calorie burning process and can in no way replace the role of exercise and a healthy diet when it comes to weight management.
Add peppers to your weight loss plan as chili peppers are also believed to decrease cravings for sweet, salty and fatty food. If you can handle the heat, curb your sweet cravings by indulging in crackers and a spicy chili pepper dip instead of that super sweet, caramel-filled chocolate bar.
So, the next time you cook up a meal, add a spicy kick to it for a dose of fiery, healthy goodness!
Q: Which chili pepper is rated the spiciest in the world?
A: The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, which is 240 times hotter than the jalapeno. Doesn’t its name make you want to think twice (or even thrice!) before taking a bite?