There has been lots of research and speculation about the effects of chillies and spicy food in general on the our metabolism and the way our body’s process food. Studies have shown that eating meals with approximately 3 grams of chilli causes the body to, on average, burn 45 more calories than an equivalent meal that does not contain the additional chilli.  After eating our metabolic rate increases this is the ‘diet-induced thermic effect’ but chillies can boost this effect by (up to) a factor of 25. Thus eating meals with chilli can reduce the effective calorific content!


It is equally interesting to note that there is strong evidence suggesting that capsiacin; the alkaloid that gives chillies their heat, causes the body to be more likely to burn stored fat for energy than carbohydrates, thus further contributing to weight loss.

Perhaps the most easily supported argument for the dietary benefits of chillies is the simple fact that eating spicy food makes you feel fuller and as such leads you to consume less food overall! Studies recently showed that when a sample of adult men ate a first course heavily laced with hot sauce, they on average consumed 200 calories less from the meal overall than those who did not.


My own personal chilli weight loss tip is to put up a large polytunnel, plant lots of chillies, and spend as many hours as possible working inside….with temperatures often reaching the 40′s and near 100% humidity I have found that substantial weight loss is virtually guaranteed!


Contrary to popular belief the seeds of the fruit are not the source of the chilli’s heat. The hottest part of the chilli is in fact the placenta (or pith) that holds the seeds to the internal walls of the fruit. Its heat is in turn due to its direct contact with the tiny glands that actually produce the capsaicin within the wall of the chilli.

When we eat a chilli the presence of this compound will immediately be sensed by the pain receptors located in your mouth and nose; and eventually your stomach. These cells send a message to the brain to release endorphins into the body. The rush of these natural painkillers often produces a feeling of great well-being and it is this sensation that frequent consumers of hot chillies can become addicted too. Like all addictions though in order to maintain the intensity of this reaction it becomes necessary to consistently increase the dose!

The heat produced by a chilli can also be heavily influenced by external factors affecting the plant; such as soil, temperature, humidity & feed regime as well as the genetic make up of the original plant from which the seed was gathered.

It is generally accepted that pure capsaicin has a Scoville rating (from Wilbur Scoville’s now legendary ‘Scoville Organoleptic Test’ of chilli heat) of around 16,000,000. However this is not the hottest alkaloid found in the natural world; resiniferatoxin that exists in the sap of some Euphorbias (that grow wild in Morocco) is 1000 times hotter than pure capsaicin giving it a Scoville rating of 16,000,000,000!

That’s approximately 13,000 times hotter than the mean heat rating of the Morouga Scorpion Chilli; currently the hottest chilli in the world!