The bright red color of hot peppers is the carotenoid antioxidant beta-carotene. In recent years hot, hot, hot peppers have become chic, and the people enjoying this new surge in chic heat surely have a gene I do not possess. I vaguely remember the days of recklessly eating jalapenos on my nachos, but then I moved to the Caribbean where I tangled with the scotch bonnet or habanero for a few years. Where some of my most vivid memories of those hot peppers (or chilies) goes like this, a roll of Charmin in one hand and a good magazine in the other. Still I'm drawn "like a moth to a flame" and I'll bet you are too. So let's start at the beginning. Chili peppers have been a part of the human diet in the Americas since at least 7500 BC. There is archaeological evidence at sites located in southwestern Ecuador that chili peppers were domesticated more than 6000 years ago, and is one of the first cultivated crops in the Central and South Americas.
The five domesticated species of chili peppers are:
- Capsicum annuum, which includes many common varieties such as bell peppers, wax, cayenne, jalapeños, and the chiltepin
- Capsicum frutescens, which includes malagueta, tabasco and Thai peppers, piri piri, African birdseye chili, Malawian Kambuzi
- Capsicum chinense, which includes the hottest peppers such as the naga, habanero, Datil and Scotch bonnet
- Capsicum pubescens, which includes the South American rocoto peppers
- Capsicum baccatum, which includes the South American aji pepper
The Scoville scale is a measurement of the spicy heat of a chili pepper. The number of Scoville Heat Units (SHU) indicates the amount of capsaicin present. All hot peppers contain capsaicinoids, natural substances that produce a burning sensation in the mouth, causing the eyes to water and the nose to run, and even induce perspiration.
Capsaicinoids are found primarily in the pepper's ribs and seeds, making them hotter than the rest of the pepper. You can reduce the amount of heat in a chili pepper by removing the ribs and seeds. Capsaicinoids have no flavor or odor, but act directly on the pain receptors in the mouth and throat. The primary capsaicinoid, capsaicin, is so hot that a single drop diluted in 100,000 drops of water will produce a blistering of the tongue. Capsaicin is the heat factor in chilies that is used medically, to produce deep-heating rubs for treating sports injuries. Hot peppers can cause burning if your hands or fingers come in contact with your eyes or other sensitive parts of the body. When using Hot Hot Hot chili peppers, wear disposable gloves to protect from spreading the heat as it is very oily. If chilies come in contact with your bare hands, wash thoroughly with soapy water, before you touch your face or private parts. Another option is latex kitchen cooking gloves. Here's a little vid on some of the many health benefits of hot peppers:
* When applied topically, capsaincin (an active substance found in chili peppers) provides pain relief.
In a study by, Numsen Hail Jr. and Reuben Lotan, PhD, of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, skin cancer cells underwent apoptosis (the cellular self-destruct sequence) after a 12-hour exposure to 100 micro M capsaicin. Exposure of the cancer cells to capsaicin was associated with a rapid increase in the generation of a destructive free radical called hydroperoxide and a decrease in oxygen consumption. The researchers think capsaicin kills cancerous cells by damaging their cell membranes, thus significantly reducing the amount of oxygen that reaches the mitochondria (the energy-production factories) within the cancer cells. Since cancer cells are rapidly dividing, their metabolic needs for oxygen are much higher than those of normal cells. Did you know that you can actually stop a heart attack in its tracts with the simple but amazing and awesome power of cayenne pepper?
It's true. Cayenne pepper can actually stop a heart attack in about 60 seconds flat! First the Cayenne pepper must be at least 90,000 heat units or 90,000(H.U.) to be able to stop a heart attack. If the cayenne is at least 90,000 H.U. and the person is still conscious, the recommendation is to mix 1 teaspoon of cayenne powder in a glass of warm water (this is essentially a "cayenne tea"), and give it to the person to drink. If the person is unconscious then the recommendation is to use a cayenne tincture or extract, again of at least 90,000 H.U., and put a couple of full droppers underneath their tongue full strength. Cayenne certainly appears to be Natures "Nitro-Glycerin" when it comes to heart attacks and someone with a heart condition would be unwise to leave home without it.
Wow ! Did you get all that? What doesn't chili do! I've always believed nature will provide a cure for everything, we just need to take the time to look hard enough. Now nobody says you need to eat enough hot peppers in one meal, to anchor your bottom to the "porcelain throne" with your favorite magazine, for a grueling session. However working a few pepper into your daily or weekly meals gradually for better flavor, and enhanced health benefits could be a smart plan. Everyone has different heat tolerances, so start slow and work your way up the heat ladder. Now for a good laugh this next video is people eating the worlds hottest pepper for money. Good Luck...
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