Chili pepper

Chili pepper

Chili pepperChili peppers are one of the most popular spices used in various cuisines. Despite the fact that they add a fiery hotness to a meal, they are commonly used for their health and medicinal properties. The spice is usually added to a dish in the form of chili pepper flakes. In combination with other spices, or simply on its own, it provides a unique hotness to your dish.

Description

There are various types of chili peppers available in different regions of the world. The spice has been used in different dishes all over the world. For example, the spice is added to Mexican dishes which causes your tongue to feel burned. Also, it is added to Szechuan dishes as well as Indian curries. The spice is also added to Thai food, which often causes some people to become teary due to the spiciness of the food. Chili peppers belong to the food family which holds the scientific name of Capsicum. There are more than a hundred different types of chili peppers. These different chili peppers do not only differ in size, color and flavor, but also in shape and in the degree of hotness. There are a few which are not hot at all and provide more of sweet taste to a dish. However, others are so incredibly hot they could cause stomach problems when consumed too often. Chili peppers contain many seeds inside the fruit. The size of the pepper can vary from one inch to six inches in length. While some chili peppers might have a bit of a yellow or orange color, most chili peppers are green or red in color. Some of the most popular chili peppers are jalapenos, chipotles and habaneros. Another famous type is cayenne. Cayenne is commonly known and used in its dried and powdered form. The spice is therefore commonly referred to as cayenne pepper. Other chili peppers are also used in their powdered form. The powder is known as chili powder and is used both for cooking as well as for its medicinal properties.

History

Chili pepper were first found in Central and South America. This is not surprising since the region is known for its hot and spicy flavors. Especially the Mexican cuisine is known for having many hot and spicy dishes. It is estimated that chili peppers have been cultivated in this region for longer than seven thousand years. Moreover, it is said that chili peppers were first used as a decorative item. Families would put chili peppers in their homes to decorate their houses. Later on, chili peppers were added to various dishes and were also used as medicine. It was only until the 15th and  16th century that chili peppers were introduced to other parts in the world. It is said that Christopher Columbus was the first one to introduce chili peppers to Europe. He supposedly found them during his travels through the Caribbean Islands. In Europe, chili pepper was used instead on black pepper. During this time black pepper was expensive since it had to be imported from various Asian countries. Only later was it possible to grow black pepper in Europe. The person who is said to be responsible for introducing chili pepper to Asia and Africa is Ferdinand Magellan. Ferdinand Magellan was an explorer who traveled through Africa and Asia. He introduced the spice to various countries in these two continents and ever since they have been using it in their cuisines. Since chili peppers have become so popular all over the world, they are now grown on all continents. The main commercial producers of the spice are Mexico, China, Turkey, Spain and Nigeria.

Cardiovascular benefits

One of the main health benefits of chili pepper is the fact that is has a positive influence on the cardiovascular system. Various studies have confirmed that red chili peppers reduce blood cholesterol and platelet aggregation. This is turn is also linked to the increased ability of the body to dissolve fibrin. This substance plays a crucial role in the formation of blood clots. Communities which consume hot chili peppers regularly as part of their diet have a lower risk of heart diseases. Studies have also found that adding chili peppers to your meal can also protect the fats in your blood cells from damaging. Damage to these cells is often caused by free radicals and the attack by free radicals is often considered to be the first stage of the development of atherosclerosis. A study was conducted whereby 27 individuals consumed freshly chopped chili peppers for a period of four weeks. It was found that those who ate chili peppers regularly had an increased ability to resist damage from free radicals. Moreover, the rate of oxidation was significantly lower compared to those people who did not consume chili peppers on a regular basis. There was also a specific difference found  between men and women. Among men, it was found that consuming chili pepper led to increased amounts of blood reaching the heart. Among women, on the other hand, it was found that they a longer lag time before damage was caused to cholesterol compared to women who adopted a diet which did not have chili pepper.


Weight loss

Chili pepper has also been associated with weight loss. Since obesity is a serious health condition, it is important to change your diet accordingly in order to lose weight. Obesity could eventually lead to chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. Chili pepper can help in the prevention of these chronic diseases since it can contribute to weight loss. A specific compound in chili pepper is said to contribute to weight loss. This compound is known as capsaicin. Capsaicin can help in losing weight since it does not only increase the burning of fat as well as reduce appetite.  Studies have indicated that 10 grams of chili pepper can already play a big role in the increase of fat burning among both men and women. Another study found that capsaicin can help to reduce calorie intake. A study was conducted among 24 participants. The participants were regular consumers of chili. They were asked to consume a bit of capsaicin before having a meal. It was concluded that among all the participants, the calorie intake was reduced significantly. However, there have also been studies which found opposite results. These studies concluded that chili peppers are not necessarily effective in weight loss and burning fat. Nevertheless, despite the contradicting results, it does appear that consuming chili pepper regularly may help in losing weight. In this case, it is important to combine it with other healthy lifestyle strategies. Thus, in order for the abovementioned results to be fully confirmed, it is necessary that further research is conducted on this topic.

Side effects of chili pepper

While chili pepper have health benefits, consuming chili peppers on a daily basis could also have side effects. Since chili peppers pass through the stomach as a first stage of digestion, this could lead to your overall digestion being unsettled. The regular digestion process is calm and quiet. However, this could be interrupted as a consequence of the fire sensations of the chili peppers. This is especially the case if you do not eat chili peppers regularly. Thus, for those people it is important not to consume a large amount of chili peppers. Moreover, since the chili peppers move through your digestive tract, the burning ingredients of the chili pepper can also be felt at a later stage of the digestion process. This means that it is possible to experience a painful and burning sensation in your rectum after having eaten chili peppers. While this is not considered to be a serious side effect, it can definitely cause discomfort for multiple days. This side effect is said to decrease, or at least become less intense, when you consume chili peppers more regularly. Furthermore, it is not necessary to consume chili peppers to experience a side effect. Since capsaicin is rather strong, the juice of the peppers are often already enough to experience a fiery sensation on your skin. The juice could cause your skin to become red and can even lead to the skin becoming itchy. Similarly to the aforementioned side effect, this is not a serious side effect if you are not allergic to the juice. If you are, it is recommended to handle the chili peppers carefully and to wear gloves.

How to select and store

Chili peppers, as well as chili pepper flakes, are commonly sold in supermarkets. However, if your local supermarket does not sell the ingredient, pay a visit to your local spice store. Spice stores do not only have a more expansive collection of herbs and spices, but the spices are often also of better quality due to the high turnover. If it is possible, try and select those products which are organically grown in order to prevent the spices from being irradiated. When choosing chili peppers, choose those which have a deep color. Also, make sure that they are not only firm and glossy but that they also have a taut skin. The stem of the chili pepper should also be fresh and hard. Moreover, the peppers should also be free from any cracks near the stem end. An exception to these peppers are jalapenos. For these peppers it is not a problem to have some cracks. You should also make sure that they do not have any black spots or have any soft spots, because that will imply that the peppers are not fresh. When the pepper does not have a vivid color, it means that it has probably lost its flavor as well. Luckily, both fresh and dried chili peppers can be bought throughout the year. While this used to be different in the past, chili peppers are not available on a global scale. If you want to store fresh peppers, place them in a paper towel and store them together with your other vegetables in the refrigerator. In the refrigerator, they can be kept up to one week. It is not recommended to store the peppers in plastic bags since they spoil more quickly compared to when they are stored in paper bags or paper towels. It is also possible to dry fresh peppers yourself. It is possible to hang them in sunlight to dry. Once they are dried, you can make freshly ground chili powder yourself. In this way you will not only be assured that the chili powder is fresh, but you will also know that it has not been mixed with other spices.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 772x
Added: 26-12-2016 00:38
Last modified: 02-02-2017 23:46

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