CHILI PEPPERS: SPICY & HEALTHY

Hot, tantalizing and uber spicy! Chili peppers are mostly used to add depth and flavor to various cuisines and sauces. The chili is primarily a fruit pod that is derived from the capsicum pepper plant that takes its heritage from the nightshade family. The most famous chili peppers are habanero, jalapeno, cayenne and Serrano peppers.

The hot flavor of chili is obtained from the capsaicin- a bioactive plant compound that gives these peppers a kick and burst of flavors. The capsaicin is found in the white membrane and seeds. It needs to be noted that the amount of capsaicin present in the chili determines the spice level.

These peppers can be powdered, dried or consumed on its own. Beware! They might put your tongue on fire or make you shed a tear or two.

Brief History

Chili peppers have an ancestral heritage in Central and South America. They date back to the 15th century, before it was introduced to South Asia. Since then, it has dominated the world's spice trade. Many believe that it overtook all the previous famous spices making it the greatest rival of South Asia’s native black pepper.

There are more than 25 species of this type of capsicum of which all belong to Central and South America. Apart from this, several species produce different flavors which vary from mild, sweet, hot, and very hot.

Reports suggest that chili peppers are the first plant from the genus Capsicum to be grown in Central America as they were consumed back in 7500 BC. The cuisines of the region were quite popular because of the pungent flavor. India is the largest producer of all types of chilies in the world whereas China, Mexico, Nigeria, Spain, and Turkey are among the few of the largest producers of chili peppers commercially.

Why is chili good for health?

Capsaicin is a bioactive plant compound that gives these peppers a kick and burst of flavor, but it is not limited to this only. According to experts, this compound is considered a remedy for several medical conditions.

Joshua Tewksbury who has spent almost ten years studying chili peppers is also a famous biologist. Furthermore, he happens to be someone who enjoys spicy food. Joshua Tewksbury stated that nearly a quarter of the world’s population is consuming chilies on a daily basis.

A common man only knows chilies for its hot flavor, but there have been other uses discovered as well. According to Medical News Today, the zingy chemical found in chili, capsaicin has the potential to minimize or even halt breast cancer. Moreover, the chemical can also be used to relieve pain. Hence, it may sound strange, but pain fights pain.

The consumption of chili peppers reduces the risk of heart diseases and strokes that could be fatal. A team of researchers at Medical News Today also reported that the consumption of chemical capsaicin may increase the average lifespan as it activates the Transient Receptor Potential (TRP).

The team stated, “Activation of TRP vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1) appears to stimulate cellular mechanisms against obesity, by altering mediators of lipid catabolism and thermogenesis.Protection against obesity leads to decreased risk of cardiovascular, metabolic, and lung diseases.”

Hence in a nutshell, all the spice lovers are likely to live longer since chili peppers might lead to an extended lifespan.

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