Health and Nutritional Benefits of Hot Peppers
It gives some people heartburn.
But the chili pepper is a staple in cuisines around the world.
First cultivated in the Americas more than 6,000 years ago, chili peppers were brought back to the old world by Columbus.
He called them peppers because he thought they were related to black pepper, which it turns out, was wrong.
Chilis were used to flavor early versions of ginger ale.
But despite its name, Dr. Pepper has never had peppers as an ingredient.
The Naga Viper is among the world's hottest peppers. It's 300 times hotter than a Jalapeno.
Chilis get their heat from a substance called capsaicin [kap-say-uh-sin].
It triggers pain receptors on the tongue. But these triggers can become desensitized with frequent exposure.
Capsaicin is commonly used in topical pain relievers for conditions like arthritis.
Researchers think it works by reducing levels of a substance that transmits pain signals to the brain.
Chilis are a good source of vitamin C. They also contain beta-carotene which the body converts to vitamin A.
Some research suggests that red chili powder may help suppress appetite and lead to weight loss. But this appears to work only for people who do not regularly eat peppers.
If you handle hot peppers, protect your skin by wearing gloves if possible.
Otherwise, you won't just taste the burn, you'll feel it too.
This entry last modified on: January 24, 2013 4:56 PM
About the Video
When you bite into a chili pepper, you probably think hot, not healthy. But that heat is tied to one of the pepper's health benefits. Learn what makes the pepper a nutritional star.