How many green chillies can I eat daily?

Green chillies are a staple in many cuisines around the world. They add a spicy kick and flavor to dishes. However, eating too many chillies can cause stomach discomfort and other side effects. So how many green chillies can you safely eat in a day?

Quick Answer

The recommended daily intake of green chillies is around 1-3, depending on your tolerance for spice. Eating more than this is generally not harmful in the short term but can cause digestive issues if consumed in excess over time. Moderation is key.

What are Green Chillies?

Green chillies, also known as raw chillies or green chili peppers, are unripe chili peppers that are green in color. They belong to the plant species Capsicum annuum which includes most varieties of peppers.

Some common types of green chillies include:

  • Jalapeño – A medium-sized chilli with a mild to moderate heat level.
  • Serrano – Small, very spicy chillies common in Mexican cuisine.
  • Habanero – A very hot variety, rated 100,000-350,000 Scoville heat units.
  • Padron – Mildly spicy with a distinctive nutty flavor.
  • Poblano – Large, mild chillies perfect for stuffing.

Green chillies can differ vastly in their spiciness depending on the variety, ranging from mild to very hot. The spicy sensation comes from capsaicin compounds present in the ribs and seeds.

Nutritional Value of Green Chillies

Despite their spicy kick, green chillies are low in calories and rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Some of the main nutrients found in green chillies (in 100g) include:

  • Calories – 40
  • Carbs – 8.8g
  • Protein – 2g
  • Fiber – 1.5g
  • Vitamin C – 143% RDI
  • Vitamin B6 – 12% RDI
  • Vitamin K – 14% RDI
  • Potassium – 322mg
  • Copper – 10% RDI
  • Vitamin A – 7% RDI
  • Iron – 5% RDI

The vitamin C content is particularly exceptional. Green chillies contain over twice the amount found in citrus fruits.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that supports immune function and helps make collagen for healthy skin and joints. The vitamin K, copper and iron in green chillies also promote blood and bone health.

So while they may make you sweat, green chillies provide a concentrated dose of important nutrients with very few calories.

Health Benefits of Green Chillies

Research suggests that regularly consuming green chillies may provide these science-backed health benefits:

May Boost Metabolism

Capsaicin, the active compound in chillies that produces heat, has been shown to slightly boost metabolism and fat burning.

In a study, when men ate spicy appetizers containing chillies before a meal, they burned 10 more calories per hour compared to eating non-spicy foods. The effect was temporary though and chillies alone won’t produce significant weight loss.

Reduce Blood Pressure

Several studies have found that eating chillies is associated with lower blood pressure levels.

In a scientific review, regular chilli intake was linked to an average reduction in systolic blood pressure of 5-8 mm Hg compared to non-consumers. The vasodilating effect of capsaicin may help relax blood vessels.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

The capsaicin, vitamin C and other antioxidants in chillies have anti-inflammatory properties that may help relieve arthritis symptoms, boost immunity and protect cells from damage.

However, research shows capsaicin creams are more effective than eating chillies to reduce localized inflammation and pain when applied topically.

May Protect Heart Health

Several large population studies have found that regularly eating chillies is connected to around a 20% lower risk of heart attack and stroke. This may be due to improved blood pressure, cholesterol and circulation from capsaicin and other bioactive plant compounds.

Can Slow Tumor Growth

Test tube and animal studies show capsaicin triggers cancer cell death and slows the spread of specific types of cancer cells.

It’s believed capsaicin’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-angiogenesis effects may block tumor growth pathways. But human research is limited and more studies are needed.

Overall the research suggests green chillies can provide some protective health benefits when included regularly in a balanced, spicy diet. However, they should be enjoyed in moderation.

Side Effects of Too Many Green Chillies

Green chillies are generally healthy when consumed in reasonable amounts as part of a varied diet. But eating too many in one sitting can produce these negative effects:

Digestive Problems

Consuming a lot of chillies, especially on an empty stomach, may irritate the stomach lining, cause cramping, bloating, burning sensations and pain.

This is due to increased stomach acid production stimulated by capsaicin interaction with stomach receptors. Those with peptic ulcers are more susceptible.


Spicy green chillies can trigger acid reflux symptoms like heartburn, belching and nausea in some people by relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter muscle. Lying down after eating chillies makes reflux worse.

Intestinal Discomfort

For those unaccustomed to spicy food, overdoing chilli intake often leads to diarrhea and intestinal cramping and pain from irritation of the gut lining.

Mouth Burn

High concentrations of capsaicin can cause a temporary burning sensation, pain and inflammation of mucous membranes in the mouth and throat.

Medication Interactions

Capsaicin may enhance absorption and side effects of certain medications like aspirin and blood thinners. It may also increase stomach ulcer risk when combined with NSAIDs like ibuprofen.

To avoid adverse effects, introduce chillies gradually into your diet and limit portions to suit your individual spice tolerance. Also take them with food, not on an empty stomach.

What is Considered Excessive Intake?

There is no official recommended upper limit for chilli intake as people’s sensitivity to capsaicin varies tremendously. Excessive amounts can range from 3-4 large chillies per day for someone accustomed to spicy food, down to just half a chilli for those with low tolerance.

Consuming over 20-30g of chillies in one meal is likely to cause negative symptoms in most people. For reference, 1 medium green chilli weighs around 40g.

If you experience any persistent digestive discomfort, it’s a sign you may need to scale back your chilli portions.

Recommended Daily Intake

As a general guide, normal safe intake is estimated to be:

  • 1-3 small-medium green chillies per day – For those who regularly enjoy spicy food
  • 2-3 times per week – For people with moderate spice tolerance
  • Once a week – If you have low tolerance to chillies

The hottest varieties like habaneros should be limited to about 1/4-1/2 pepper per day for most people.

Always start with small amounts and slowly increase over time as your body adjusts. Drink plenty of water and avoid chillies on an empty stomach to minimize side effects.

Tips to Increase Your Spice Tolerance

If you want to be able to handle more heat from chillies, you can try:

  • Gradually increase serving sizes over weeks/months
  • Have chillies with food – Don’t consume on empty stomach
  • Build up from mild to moderate then hot varieties
  • Eat cooked vs raw chillies – Cooking helps mellow the burn
  • Remove chilli ribs and seeds to reduce heat
  • Pair with cooling foods like yoghurt, cucumber, mint
  • Limit alcohol intake – Can worsen stomach irritation
  • Stay hydrated – Drink water to dilute stomach acid

With time you may be able to better tolerate the beloved spicy kick of green chillies!

Should You Avoid Green Chillies Completely?

For most people green chillies can be safely enjoyed as part of a varied diet without issue.

However, you may need to avoid green chillies completely if:

  • You have chronic digestive conditions – IBS, IBD, diverticulitis, colitis
  • You take medications that capsaicin may interact with
  • You have an allergy or hypersensitivity to chillies
  • You experience severe or persistent stomach problems after eating them
  • You have open sores in the mouth or ulcers
  • You are pregnant – Large amounts may cause heartburn

If in doubt, discuss with your doctor before adding chillies to your diet, especially if you have a medical condition.


  • 1-3 small green chillies per day is considered a safe and healthy intake for most people who regularly enjoy spicy foods.
  • Chillies provide beneficial nutrients but very hot varieties should be eaten in moderation due to their capsaicin content.
  • Eating too many chillies can cause digestive upset, stomach pain and acid reflux in those with sensitivity.
  • You can safely build up your spice tolerance over time. But avoid overdoing it and stop eating chillies if you experience ongoing problems.
  • For those with medical conditions or who are pregnant, check with your doctor about safe chilli intake levels.

Ultimately, listen to your body. Allow it to adapt slowly and enjoy the flavor and health perks of green chillies safely within your own tolerance levels.

The Bottom Line

Green chillies are a nutritious, antioxidant-rich way to add some spice to meals. For most people, 1-3 small to medium chillies per day, or 2-3 times per week, can be part of a healthy diet and provide benefits like improved circulation and immunity.

However, chilli peppers should be built up slowly over time. Start with small amounts from less spicy varieties if you are not accustomed to heat. This allows your body’s tolerance to capsaicin to increase gradually.

Avoid eating excessive portions of chillies in one sitting, especially on empty stomach, as this can provoke digestive problems, pain and acid reflux. Those with gastrointestinal conditions may need to avoid chillies altogether.

Finding your own comfortable daily green chilli intake level based on your preference for spice allows you to take advantage of their unique flavor and nutrition without adverse effects.

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