CHILI PEPPER AND CHILI PEPPER FLAKES
Chili peppers, which are also called ‘Capsicum annuum’, are the fruits of Capsicum pepper plants, known for their characteristic hot flavour. They belong to the nightshade family, and share some similarities with bell peppers and tomatoes. Several varieties of chili peppers exist in nature, including the cayenne and jalapeño. In most parts of the world, chili peppers are basically used as a spice in making hot-flavoured dishes. They can be cooked fresh or converted into powdered chili pepper through drying and pulverization.
Brief History of Chili Peppers
Everyday, millions of people across the world consume chili pepper. However, these perennial shrubs were not so popular until Christopher Columbus sailed all the way to the New World in 1492. He was the first person to travel to Spain with these peppers. You may be wondering, is Columbus responsible for the spread of chili peppers to other parts of the world? Well, not exactly. Although Columbus initiated the proliferation of chili peppers, it was the Portuguese and their broad trade routes that made the global adoption of chili peppers possible.
Why Do You Feel a Burning Sensation When You Eat Chili Peppers?
A compound known as capsaicin is responsible for the burning sensation you feel in your mouth when you eat chili peppers. When consumed, capsaicin triggers pain receptors whose basic function is to notify the body of any dangerous physical heat. This same mechanism is also activated when you mistakenly pick up a hot pan – the temperature sensation receptors are triggered and you quickly drop the hot pan.
Chili Pepper Flakes
Chili pepper flakes are made from a combination of peppers from the capsicum annum family – jalapeño, bell pepper, Fresno, and Anaheim peppers. However, the variety of pepper used most frequently is the cayenne pepper. Most chili pepper flakes sold in stores are a mix of peppers, with cayenne being the major constituent. However, the composition may differ, depending on the brand or company you end up buying.
Health Benefits of Chili Pepper
Aside their hot flavour, chili peppers also have other benefits to offer – health benefits. Let’s take a look at some of them.
- Pain Relief
Capsaicin, the active compound in chili peppers, contains some special properties. When ingested, it easily connects with pain receptors, which are the nerve endings that sense physical pain. This bond – between capsaicin and the pain receptors – creates a burning sensation but doesn’t cause actual burn injuries.
Therefore, if you consume chili pepper (or capsaicin) in large quantities for a long time, it may desensitize your pain receptors, decreasing your ability to sense the burning flavour of chili. It also reduces the sensitivity of your pain receptors to other kinds of pain, like heartburn caused by acid reflux.
- Weight Loss
Obesity is a dangerous health condition that can make you susceptible to several chronic ailments, including heart disease and diabetes. Some studies have revealed that capsaicin can help people lose weight by reducing their appetite and increasing the burning of body fat.
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