Chili Is More Nutritious Than You Might Have Thought

Chili means something different to everybody. Most of the debate is centered on whether or not beans have a place in chili, or whether or not Skyline Chili should even be considered a chili. But beyond that there's a huge amount of variations out there between family recipes, canned chili, and what you might find at a restaurant or bar. While it's hard to recommend all chili as nutritious because of this, it can serve as a great template for a hearty, filling, and nutritious meal all on its own.

According to Serious Eats, when most people talk about chili, they are referring to red meat stewed in a chili pepper sauce of some kind. From there though, the possibilities are endless, and could include a long list of vegetables, beans, and even whole grains like oatmeal. Chili is also a great option because it can be prepared in large batches, freezes well, and is customizable to everyone's different tastes and dietary needs with a variety of toppings and sides as optional additions.

Nutrients in chili

While not suited to everyone's taste buds or digestive tracts, spicy foods like the chili peppers that form the basis of some chilis have been shown to provide several health benefits (via Consumer Reports). Some studies have shown spicy foods to possess anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and blood-glucose regulating effects. These properties seem to be derived from a compound called capsaicin. This happens to also be the component of chili peppers that gives them their spicy flavor. The next time a bowl of chili leaves you sweating you can take some solace knowing that it's good for you.

Consumer Reports recommends replacing at least some of the red meat in a classic chili. They recommend looking for a leaner cut of beef at the very least, but say that plant proteins like mushrooms, tofu, or bulgur wheat can make great substitutions. They also recommend adding tomatoes thanks to the high volume of the antioxidant lycopene.

While the addition of beans may be a hot topic, there's no doubt that they're a nutrition powerhouse. According to Medline Plus, beans make a great addition or substitution for meat because they contain many of the same nutrients with no saturated fats. Beans are also high in protein, fiber, potassium, and other essential nutrients.

The next time you're looking for a healthy weeknight meal to prep ahead, or need to feed a crowd, try out one of our favorite chili recipes with some healthy add-ons.