Research carried out in China has demonstrated that rats fed capsaicin (the chemical that makes chillis hot) had more relaxed blood vessels and lower blood pressure than mice given a diet without capsaicin. The researchers suggest that eating chillis may be a promising lifestyle intervention for people with hypertension.
Until further research is done, people should not try substituting their blood pressure medication with chillis, but including them in the diet is beneficial for several reasons. Research in the laboratory has shown that capsaicin may be beneficial in reducing cancer rates, chillis are high in vitamin C and vitamin A. They help to ward off colds and flu by boosting the bug fighting properties of mucous membranes lining the nose and throat. Chillis have also been shown to reduce cholesterol and to balance blood sugar by modulating insulin response.
Why not try some of these dishes to boost immunity, help ward off cancer, balance blood sugar and have a positive effect on blood pressure?
Chilli con carne by Jamie Oliver, taken from’ Jamie’s Ministry of Food’
- 2 medium onions
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 medium carrots
- 2 sticks of celery
- 2 red peppers
- Olive oil
- 1 heaped teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
- 1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans
- 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
- 500g good-quality minced beef
- 1 small bunch of fresh coriander
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 400g basmati rice
- 1 x 500g tub of natural yoghurt
- 1 x 230g tub of guacamole
- 1 lime
Method: How to make good old chilli con carne
1. Peel and finely chop the onions, garlic, carrots and celery – don’t worry about the technique, just chop away until fine.
2. Halve the red peppers, remove the stalks and seeds and roughly chop.
3. Place your largest casserole-type pan on a medium high heat.
4. Add 2 lugs of olive oil and all your chopped vegetables.
5. Add the chilli powder, cumin and cinnamon with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
6. Stir every 30 seconds for around 7 minutes until softened and lightly coloured.
7. Add the drained chickpeas, drained kidney beans and the tinned tomatoes
8. Add the minced beef, breaking any larger chunks up with a wooden spoon.
9. Fill one of the empty tomato tins with water and pour this into the pan.
10. Pick the coriander leaves and place them in the fridge.
11. Finely chop the washed stalks and stir in.
12. Add the balsamic vinegar and season with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
13. Bring to the boil and turn the heat down to a simmer with a lid slightly askew for about an hour, stirring every now and again to stop it catching.
Serve with brown rice and a large green salad.
Vegetarian chilli, adapted from a recipe by the vegetarian society
For the sauce
- 175g/6oz green lentils
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1-2 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 red and 1 green pepper, stalk and seeds removed, and chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 x 400g/14oz cans chopped tomatoes
- 1 heaped tbsp tomato purée
- 300ml/½ pint vegetable stock (make with bouillon powder)
- 100g/4oz frozen peas
- 3 tbsp vegetarian pesto
- 175g/6oz mushrooms, wiped and quartered
- 1 courgette, chopped
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 can kidney beans, drained and cooked
- Place the green lentils in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave to soak for 30 minutes. (Alternatively, buy a tin of pre soaked lentils.) Drain.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion and garlic together with the chilli and cumin, until the onions are softening.
- Add the peppers, carrots and drained green lentils and cook for 5 minutes, stirring all the time. Add the tomatoes, purée, stock, peas and pesto, bring to the boil and simmer until the lentils are tender (about 30 minutes). Add the mushrooms and courgettes and simmer for 5 minutes more.
- Season to taste.
- Add the cooked kidney beans and simmer for 5 more minutes.
- Serve with cooked brown rice and a large green salad.