I don’t know about you but I have taken chile peppers totally for granted. Plus, I had so many misconceptions about hot peppers and I avoided them like the plague. I believed they hurt your stomach and that they were bad for our bodies. I know they burned your skin (I once had that terrible experience making salsa without gloves) so how could they not destroy your insides too? What if I told you that the opposite it true? Would you believe me? Hold on to your hats folks.
How is a Chile Pepper like a Tarantula?
Peppers contain a chemical called capsaicin (pronounced cap-say-sin). This amazing indestructible substance is also responsible for the incredible healing properties of peppers. That’s right – I said healing not hurting. Yes, it does hurt or rather stimulate a burning pain sensation when ingested. This is very similar to the action of some tarantula venom. Who would have guessed that peppers and tarantulas have something in common? However, for peppers, once the burning sensation trigger is repeated, capsaicin develops a tolerance and the burning sensation is reduced. Capsaicin also triggers a hormone called somatostatin that actually cools inflammation. It is this action that creates the beneficial properties of chile peppers.
Used as a pain killer, capsaicin creams, which are approved by the FDA, have a significant effect on nerve pain, inflammation caused by arthritis, headaches, neck pain and neuropathy.
Are Chile Peppers Heart Healthy?
Ingestion of chile peppers is also associated with lowering LDL cholesterol and raising the HDL cholesterol, preventing blood clots and reducing damage following a heart attack.
Consumption of chile peppers has been linked to weight loss in that metabolism is increased as well as the rate of burning calories while suppressing the appetite and the number of fat cells. Chile peppers have anti-cancer properties too, causing death to tumor cells and reducing incidence rates for a number of cancers.
Chile peppers may be hot going in but they create a healing effect once they reach your digestive system. They may actually prevent ulcers and heal indigestion issues.
Shopping for Chiles
Before you stock up on chile peppers in the grocery store here are a few guidelines to the nomenclature associated with peppers. There are over 3000 varieties of chile peppers. Peppers come in many forms but both the dried and fresh forms are the most common. The same pepper, such as the jalapeño when fresh, is referred to as chipotle when dried and smoked. A fresh poblano pepper is an ancho when dried. The smaller and redder the pepper the hotter it will be. Most of the heat of a pepper will be in the white, fleshy membrane part of the pepper not as much in the seeds, with the stems being the hottest with the most membrane. Chili powder is not really from chiles however cayenne powder is from the cayenne pepper. Buy smooth, shiny fresh peppers with minimal damage to the outer skin. Always wear gloves and avoid contact with eyes when preparing peppers for recipes.
Some tasty recipes using chile peppers: Southwestern White Bean Chili & Mango Tango Salsa