Last Updated on by San San
A nice, delicious bowl of chilli on a cool day warms the soul. Preparing the dishes yourself and letting them simmer all day makes a home smell wonderful. I can almost smell it myself right now. There are so many varieties and recipes out there to choose from, it is hard to imagine that you would not be able to find one you enjoy.
Chilli has been referred to as the ultimate comfort food by many people, especially in Asian countries and has also caused a few bathroom arguments, I am sure. So, the real question in this article is… can diabetics eat chilli?
With all this being said, the real debate here today is whether as a diabetic, you can enjoy a nice warm bowl of the ultimate comfort food. How does chilli affect you and your blood sugar levels as a diagnosed diabetic? Is it going to send your blood sugar through the roof, or is it going to be okay? Let us stir the pot.
How Does Chili Affect Diabetics?
The first thing we need to look at is the effect that chilli may or may not have on a person’s blood sugar levels. All chilli has some form of chilli pepper in the recipe, partly due to the vast quantity of chillies that exist. Chillies range from a simple jalapeño to the ever-so-popular chipotle. This is also since they are used in things commonly used with chillies like cayenne pepper, chilli powder, or even the actual chillies themselves. However, how do all that spicy ingredients affect your blood sugar levels as a diabetic?
Chilli peppers are low in cholesterol, low in saturated fats, low in sodium and sugar. They contain zero trans fats which are normally good for everyone. Throughout time, people have used chillies for several things from food to medicine. To help you better understand chillies, check out this infographic. It gives you all the information about chillies and how good they are for your health in general.
The active ingredient that is found in all chilli peppers is called capsaicin which is a naturally occurring chemical in the peppers that gives it that bite of heat and spice. There was a study that was done in 2006 that revealed the subjects who had consumed a diet that was rich in meals containing cayenne powder had lower blood glucose levels.
Researchers have concluded that eating meals that were made with cayenne powder regularly may improve the sensitivity of tissues to insulin. This means that less insulin would be required to effectively get the glucose from the blood and distribute it through the tissues in the body. Does this mean that chilli could lower blood sugar for people struggling with high blood sugar? Can diabetics eat chilli?
Can Eating Chili Lower Blood Sugar?
Now here is the issue with trying to provide a legitimate answer to this question. Although there is a lot of studies on the effects of spicy foods on glucose levels, and insulin production, there is not a lot of support financially for these studies. What I mean by that is this – the studies are based around natural medicine ideas rather than “big pharma” cures and preventive measures.
However, do not ignore the studies that are being done, just remember that they are limited on how far they can go. Does the spicy food reduce blood sugar levels as well as benefit diabetics though? Though there are several studies to understand if spicy food can benefit diabetics or those with gestational issues, how much could you eat before your tongue burns out of your mouth?
If you go with extra lean ground beef when making your favourite batch of chilli, and go light on the salt, chilli will benefit you in many ways.
What is the Glycemic Load of Chili?
The glycemic load of chilli is hard to define partially due to the multiple varieties of chilli that are out there. With that being said, one ingredient that you must make sure you include in your chilli recipe is beans. The reason for this is the American Diabetes Association classifies beans as a diabetes superfood. A 1/3 cup of red beans added to your chilli is going to provide you with 73 calories, 5g of protein, 13g of carbs, and 5g of fibre.
Even though it is hard to define the glycemic load of chilli, the more beans and vegetables you add into your pot, the more beneficial it will be for you. Naturally, you want to be careful when adding all your spices, you do not want to overload on salt. Chilli is a combination of different food that blend for a delicious dance party within your body.
Sure, you can check each food individually and try to figure it out on your own, but who would want to try and do it themselves? Nowadays, most recipes you find will provide you with the nutritional information for that specific recipe, it’s almost like a law that needs to be followed.
You can use this information to help you keep an eye on your carb load and calorie intake. With that being said, chilli peppers land at 45 on the glycemic index which is considered low on the scale.
Final Thoughts About Diabetics and Chili
The benefits of eating chilli are part of a large debate that has many varying opinions from both diabetics and specialists alike. Does that mean that, as a diabetic, you should not include chilli as part of your diet? No – there is not enough actual evidence out there that justifies the argument, either way. There are benefits to eating chillies, as well as many of the ingredients that people use in the multitude of the different recipes that are out there.
One thing that is certain though is that, as a diabetic, you certainly can enjoy a soul-hugging bowl of chilli. Of course, you want to moderate your consumption of chilli so you can monitor the effects it may or may not have on your glucose levels. Grab that stock-pot, clear the counter, grab the veggies and whip up a big ole batch of chilli and enjoy!