My aunty asked me why many detox programs include chili or cayenne pepper, which is made from the dried pods of chili peppers. Many off the shelf detox programs include these ingredients, so I did a bit of research to find out if these ingredients actually help the body to detoxify, or not.
The main medicinal properties of chili are derived from the chemical capsaicin. It's the capsaicin that gives chili the heat and the hotter the chili, the more capsaicin it contains. Indian and Chinese medicine practitioners often use chili to treat digestive ailments as it stimulates the flow of stomach secretions and saliva which help to digest food.
Chili increases blood flow in the body, and increased blood flow to the liver is important during detox. The liver is the bodies detoxification organ. It removes toxins from the body. If blood flow to the liver is impaired, nutrients don't reach the liver and the liver has problems removing waste materials. Chili is therefore included in detox programs to help the detoxifying function of the liver.
As well as stimulating the body to create the feeling of heat, capsaicin increases body temperature and metabolism. Increased metabolism increases the number of kilojoules your body burns. Therefore chili is included in detox programs that claim to assist with weight loss.
Aside from its detoxification and weight loss potential, chili contains vitamins E and C and carotenoids. Carotenoids act as antioxidants, reducing damage caused by free radicals (the nasty things that cause aging, tissue damage, and disease).
When I think of chili, I think of Mexican food. Here is an easy, healthy and yummy recipe that uses chili.
Mexican Chili Bean Wraps (serves four)
• olive oil
• 1 onion, peeled and sliced
• 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
• a pinch of chili powder
• 2-4 red chilli's, chopped finely (leave the seeds in if you want it hot, take out if you want it mild)
• 1 teaspoon tomato puree
• 480g tinned red kidney beans, drained and washed
• 150g tinned tomatoes
• freshly ground black pepper
• ½ green pepper, sliced
• ½ red pepper, sliced
• 5 large flour tortillas
• 150g cheese, grated
• lettuce leaves
• 1 chopped tomato
• 2 grated carrots
Fry onion for 10 minutes in oil, then add garlic, fresh chili, chili powder, tomato puree, drained kidney beans and tinned tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes until the juice has reduced. Put half of the mix into a bowl and mash with a fork until it forms a mush. Combine with the unmashed half and set aside in a serving bowl. Put peppers under the grill until they soften slightly. Prepare your salad ingredients and lay out on a platter with the peppers. Serve with warm tortillas and get everyone to make their own wraps.