Remember the burning hot sensation from eating chillis? The mouth on fire experience, the sweat, the tears, and the pain?
Chilli has always been a perennial favourite of many Singaporeans, Thais, Indonesians, and Malaysians. Still, not many like to take in chillis as they find it way too hot to handle. So why is it that some people shy away from the fiery zesty tang of chillis?
The reason we experience the burning sensation in our mouths when we eat chillis is due to a chemical called Capsaicin found inside the chillis. Capsaicin activates receptors that convey a message to the brain which make us perceive that the chilli is spicy and hot. That is why whenever we eat chilli, we get the burning sensation in our mouths that sometimes even numbs our tongue.
Eating chillis may help us to live longer
A study conducted shows that people who ate chillis had 13% lower risk of dying than those who do not. It is still unclear to why eating chilli is linked to the lower risk of death. However, there are a few possible reasons suggested by researchers:
- The capsaicin in chilis help fight various health issues
One reason why eating chillis may lower death risk is it maybe due to the capsaicin compound found in chillis.
Capsaicin has anti-microbial properties that help fight against obesity, lowering the risk of heart diseases. It also helps prevent chronic back pain, relieves neuropathic pain, and suppress prostate cancer cells.
- It does not cause gastric ulcer
There are a few articles online suggesting that consuming foods that are too spicy can cause gastric ulcer. However, according to an article published in the Critical Reviews In Food Science journal, chillis can aid in preventing gastric ulcer as they help inhibit acid secretion in the stomach.
You can indulge in some of the local cuisines that offer chilli in their food. Here are some of the dishes:
1. Chilli crabs
Chilli crabs are well loved by many Singaporeans. It is served in a semi-thick, sweet and savoury tomato and chilli-based sauce. You can even order some fried buns to go along with the dish. Just dip the fried buns into the sauce, then into your mouth. Enjoy the trip to paradise as the fragrance spread in your mouth, tingling all your sensations.
It can be hard to explain the term ‘Ma-la’. The literal translation of it is “numbingly spicy”. And, that is literally how your tongue would feel when you consume “Ma-la”. This is definitely one of the things that you have to try when you are visiting Malaysia or Singapore. It is spicy. Very spicy. But of course, it will not be so spicy that it will leave you crying for mercy at the end of the meal.
3. Asam laksa
The next favourite would be Asam Laksa. It is very famous sweet-spicy, fish-based rice noodle soup in Malaysia. With tuna flakes, chilis, onions, and the tangy fish-based soup. This dish is very popular in Malaysia.
4. Tom yum
When it comes to spicy food in Thailand, Tom Yum will naturally come to your mind. To get that addictive spicy yet sour taste, most recipes would advise adding 8-10 Thai chillis and 4-6 limes into a pot of Tom Yum soup. Without coconut milk and sugar, Tom Yum soup can be very healthy at just 90 calories per one cup.
5. Papaya salad
Get the best of both worlds with this dish that is both a salad and a dish that uses chillis. This dish is also very popular in Thailand, and you have to try their papaya salad when you visit Thailand. It is sweet, sour, and also spicy.
This chilli-based sauce is a staple in many Indonesian dishes, and no dish is complete without sambal. It is a hot sauce that can be paired with any dish like sambal kankong (a type of vegetable), or the local favourite, Nasi Lemak.
Some chillis can be so spicy that they cause discomfort or pain. Even though there are many health benefits of chillis, you should not eat too much until it causes you pain. You should still know when to stop before hurting yourself. As a general rule of thumb, listen to your body. If your tongue is screaming for help, it is probably advisable to stop eating any more chilli.