Why Ma La Is Good For You
To Singaporeans, Mala is more than just a dish. It’s become a social activity where people gather just to feel the burn and the magical tingle.
Scientifically, this numbing sensation is proven to feel as if your lips are vibrating 50 times per second. In electrical terms, this is equivalent to 50 hertz. Singapore’s electricity supply runs on this voltage!
It may seem like meaningless torture to some. But what if we told you that setting your tongue on fire may give you a longer and happier life?
Step aside, acai. There’s a new superfood on the block and it’s none other than the Sichuan peppercorn.
The Sichuan peppercorn is a key ingredient in Ma La. This ingredient contains a unique compound that gives mala its signature tingle.
But more importantly, Sichuan peppercorns are more nutritional than many other superfoods. What makes it stand out is its high antioxidant content.
As we know, antioxidants prevent the damage of healthy cells. These good-guy compounds prevent accelerated ageing or even worse, tumour growth.
A mere 100 grams of Sichuan peppercorns have an ORAC value of over 118,000. Let’s compare this with some other superfoods.
Sichuan Peppercorns rank higher than Acai berries. And get this, it has 66 times the antioxidant value of Kale and 21 times the value of Soybeans.
So if you don’t eat your greens or beans, you can still get your antioxidant fix from Ma La!
Now, what if we told you that eating FIERY mala is also the key to your happiness. The magic lies in the concoction of fresh AND dried chillies in the recipe.
Chillies contain a special compound called Capsaicin, a chemical that determines your ‘Xiao’, ‘Zhong or (god-forbid) ‘Da’ levels.
When the heat sensors on your tongue come into contact with capsaicin, they’re stimulated and call out to the brain for help.
The brain then releases endorphins and dopamine to combat the pain. These are the same neurochemicals that get released when you exercise.
Endorphins act as a pain-killer and it dulls your perception of pain. Meanwhile, dopamine contributes to pleasure and satisfaction. In other words, this combination makes you feel good.
So the next time you’re in need of a mid-week pick me up, get some Ma La in your system and you’ll be all set.
While eating Mala does have its benefits, always remember to eat everything in moderation. Too much and you’ll find yourself in an uncomfortable situation.
But why does it feel like an exorcism is occurring in our stomachs after we eat Ma La?
Well, that's because the same heat sensors found on your tongue are also located in your large intestine and rectum.
To ease the pain, you can chug down some milk. Water will do nothing for you because Capsaicin only dissolves in fat, oil and strong alcohol.
So proceed with caution, ‘Mai gey kiang’, don't say we never warn you okay?