Slimming and Anti-ageing, Are Red Chillies Really A Super Spice?

4 min read

Fell in love as soon as I laid my eyes on them! They were homegrown, they were freshly plump and their bright red color was singing a siren song to me…

Just look at ’em! Gorgeous!

Some Peppery Trivia-

Have you ever felt so strongly about any food or ingredient before? Ever seen a bhaji and had this strong impulse of wanting to cook and eat it right away? I did once, this one time back in Lubbock when I stumbled upon Dodka (Ridge Gourd) at a Chinese store of all places! Got emotional back then, might have even shed a tear or two (I kid you not)…

Well, back to the present!

Did you know that red chilies, green chilies, yellow and even white are not the different varieties but just different stages a chili pepper goes through if allowed to ripen fully! Means if a green chili is not plucked, it will ripen on the plant. In the process, chlorophyll (green pigment) will be replaced by carotenoids (yellow-red pigments) and the green chilly will first turn yellow and eventually red.

Kyonki red chili bhi kabhi green chili thi… 😛

Same goes for the bell peppers. Those expensive red ones were green to begin with, they just stayed on the plant a little longer and ripened to that bright yellow/red hue! They take a longer time to harvest…

Now can you tell why yellow and red bell peppers are more expensive?

Know More on how chilies conquered the world… Read,

…one was born in the Americas, traveled east…She came, she saw and she conquered over rest of the Indian spices… so much so that India is now the biggest producer and also the biggest consumer of Chili Peppers in the world! Whilst her distant Indian cousin has already crossed over the seven oceans and won over western hemisphere a long time ago. Did you know that United States of America is the biggest consumer of Black Peppers today (can you imagine mashed potatoes or Mac N Cheese without a dash of pepper?!)

Accusations against Chili Peppers-

Chilies, CAUSE gastric ulcers!

No, they certainly DO NOT!

“Gastric issues? stop eating spicy foods”! Don’t you hear that a lot? But what if I told you that it is far from the truth! This belief that spices (note, here we are talking about pure spices, not spicy food ladened with fats and salt too!) are the cause of gastric issues is a convenient misinformation. Facts are-

Capsaicin (an active ingredient in chilies) is an irritant and in the theory, upon ingestion, it can irritate the stomach

But in reality, inside of stomach wall has this thin layer of mucus that acts as a protective barrier between the stomach and any acids, irritants, and bacteria it may come in contact with! (did you know: without the protective mucus barrier, the stomach will be burned by its own the stomach acid!)

Bacterial infections, notably Helicobacter Pylori, causes disintegration of the mucosal layer. Now in the absence of the protective layer, from spices to coffee and from acidic foods to stomach acid, everything irritates it and eventually causes stomach ulcers.

So, in a nutshell, the belief that long-term consumption of chilies and spices will erode the stomach wall and cause ulcers (and possibly also cancer) is not just false but also the exact opposite of the reality.

Proven Health Effects of Chilies-

  • protects the heart (anti-atherosclerotic) [1]
  • longevity/reduced mortality [2] [3]
  • Antidiabetic [4]
  • Boosts metabolism and aids with weight loss [4]
  • Anticancer [5]
  • Painkiller

What can we attribute these amazing health benefits to?

Capsaicin: is a colorless, odorless, hydrophobic (can not dissolve in water) phytochemical present in chilies. It is present in all chilies and pepper members of Capsicum family, but in a variable amount. It plays a part in the plant’s defense mechanism by deterring herbivores (guess deers and rabbits are not that into hot chilies ha!)

Capsaicin is widely used as an analgesic (painkiller) and is a part of pain ointments and pain patches prescribed in Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Muscle ache etc. It is Capsaicin indeed that is responsible for metabolism enhancing and also thermogenic effects of red chilies.

Medical Trivia: Did you know that a new weight loss and antiobesity drug “Metabocin” is made of nothing but just pure and concentrated Capsaicin!


Carotenoids: These are the pigments that give ripened peppers their signature yellow-orange-red color. These are antioxidant in nature. Carotenoids present in red chilies are Capsanthin, β-carotene, Lutein,  Zeaxanthin etc.

Well well well, now that you have learned a bit about the health benefits of red chilies, don’t you want to know what I did with my chilies?


Presenting, Mirchicha Thecha/ Kharda [Recipe]


Chilies (Red/Green)

Garlic (6-7 cloves)

Salt (per taste)

Cooking Oil/ Ghee (1 tablespoon)




In a heavy bottom (preferably iron) skillet put the oil and chilies. Fry the chilies well on a medium flame. How to know if the chilies are well done? Stop cooking when most all chilies get black dots on them.

Now you can either use a traditional mortar and pestle to stone grind all roasted chilies, salt, garlic, and coriander or even a regular grinder will do. Grind everything together coarsely (do not make a paste).

And your red, hot kharda is ready!

Bonus tip: Given is my dad’s recipe. My mother in law likes to add caramelized (sauteed) onions in it, we tried this twist and the result was mouthwatering!

So next time, don’t pass those red-hot delicious chilies due to some unfounded fear : P

Note: People experiencing gastrointestinal ulcers, people with severe acidity problems should avoid chili peppers till their condition is cured and symptoms are subdued.

Bonus trivia: Did you know that capsaicin is also the reason why we feel hot when we eat chilies? Capsaicin binds to the receptor responsible for pain and heat sensation (TRPV1) and fools brain into feeling that hot-burning sensation!

Soniya Nikam, MS, RD.

Soniya Nikam, MS, RD.

She is a Registered Dietitian who does not believe in dieting; She has a Master's Degree in Nutrition but she is not your "I know it all Nutrition Guru!"; She loves food but loves talking about food even more. Her articles are a direct reflection of her personal quest where nutrition science meets real life! Oh, and she is owned by a 3 m.o. naughty kitten :)

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