Calabrian chilli peppers are arguably the most important ingredient in Southern Italian cuisine. They are found in recipes across Calabria and beyond and grown in every garden and on every balcony! The habitat is ideal and the peperoncini are super hot! Not only do they add fire and colour to any meal, according to recent research they have even more health benefits than previously thought.
Here are 5 good reasons to pile your plate with Calabrian Chilli Peppers:
1) Calabrian chilli peppers boost your immunity
The bright colour of red chili peppers indicate their high content of beta-carotene or pro-vitamin A. Just two teaspoons of red chili peppers provide about 6% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C coupled with more than 10% of the daily amount of vitamin A. Often called the anti-infection vitamin, vitamin A is essential for healthy mucous membranes, which line the nasal passages, lungs, intestinal tract and urinary tract and serve as the body’s first line of defense
2) They stimulate your metabolism
Capsaicin – the ingredient that makes chilli peppers hot – could help burn off fat in the body. Recent research by the University of Wyoming has shown that capsaicin may stimulate the body to burn energy and create heat, burning off calories in the process.
3) They boost your mood
In need of a pick me up? Spicy, warming foods can increase circulation and cause your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that provide a feeling of a natural high. Chilli peppers are also known for their aphrodisiac properties, they contain a high concentration of capsaicin which raises your heart rate and increases the sensitivity of nerve endings!
4) They are a natural pain killer
Capsaicin is known to reduce pain, this is why it’s used in topical pain-relieving creams and patches. It’s actually the very intense burning sensation from chillies that, ironically, relieves pain
5) They are good for your heart
Evidence is preliminary, but there’s a possibility that capsaicin could be used as a treatment to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Eating meals with capsaicin-rich peppers may also help to regulate blood sugar levels and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. And when you lower your type 2 diabetes risk, your blood pressure, and your cholesterol, you lower your overall heart health risks!
In Calabria the “peperoncino” is added to so many different dishes and can be found in many different guises. Try it stuffed and preserved in oil, chopped, in a spicy pate’, in savoury jam or even in dark chocolate! Use it to add a Calabrian chilli pepper kick to your meals from an antipasto platter, to any pasta dish, to pizza or even to chocolate desserts!