Fact Sheets

Season 5, Ep 2 - Curry


·Curry is New Zealand’s 3rd favourite meal after roast and steak.

·Spices have antibacterial effects - it is thought they have helped with food safety for centuries, especially in the tropics where the risk of food poisoning is higher.

·Chillies aren’t spicy for our enjoyment! The spiciness is caused by a chemical called capsaicin which they contain to stop animals eating them.

·Capsaicin is an irritant which is why it stings the tongue.

·Spicy foods including chilli, pepper, some tea, caffeine, garlic and ginger can all increase metabolism slightly.

·In some cases spicy foods decrease the craving for sweet foods.

·Eating chilli doesn’t raise your temperature - capsaicin binds to the heat receptors in your tongue which send a message to the brain to say that you’re hot even though you aren’t.

·Capsaicin dissolves in fat so milk can neutralise capsaicin which soothes the mouth.

·Garlic is found in many different kinds of curry. It is traditionally thought to help with illness.

·Garlic can help prevent heart disease, reduce blood pressure and may have protective effects against renal and colorectal cancers.

·There are rumours that garlic imported from China has been bleached. The Ministry for Primary Industries has said that bleaching agents for garlic are permitted by the food standards code, but won’t be active when the food is ready to eat.

·The vast majority of ginger in New Zealand is imported from Thailand.

·In 2009, the Ministry for Primary Industries tested imported ginger and found residues of one pesticide, carbendazim which exceeded the limit, however they say it is of no concern.

·Some chemicals in ginger have structures similar to paracetamol and asprin and they have a pain killing activity.

·Ginger can be helpful for morning sickness but is also often sold to people for motion sickness.

·Our Human Experiment found that ginger helped prevent motion sickness better than nothing or a placebo.

·Turmeric has many health benefits including preventative effects on cancer and benefits for Alzheimer’s disease.

·Drying spices can make them lose some of their goodness if they are left dried for a long time. It’s best to use spices by the time their ‘Best Before’ date is up.

·Dried spices are treated to remove pests before they are imported into New Zealand.

·In some cases, this is done by a treatment called irradiation that involves ionising rays passing through the spices.

·The risk of irradiation on the consumer is very small. Food does not become radioactive. However, irradiation may change the taste of the food.

·Spices that have been irradiated must be clearly labelled.

·A lot of components in curry act synergistically so its combinations of food and spices may be more beneficial to your health than any of them by themselves.

·A study has been done which shows that turmeric and cauliflower has benefits for types of cancer.

·Coconut milk adds flavour to chilli and the fat it contains helps offset the spiciness of chilli.

·Coconut milk is usually made by shredding the flesh of the coconut and pressing it.

·Coconut milk is high in saturated fat.

·A 2005 survey found coconut cream had a higher level of bisphenol A than any other food.

·Bisphenol A is known as an endocrine disruptor, which may have negative effects on hormone levels in the general population.

·Bisphenol A gets into coconut milk from the lining of the can as it is fat soluble.

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