What Makes Peppers Hot?

The answer to the title of this article is an easy one, albeit a somewhat big word. Capsaicin is what makes peppers hot. So exactly what is this stuff and is it good for you?

Capsaicin is the active compound resident in chili peppers. Chili peppers belong to the capsicum plant family, thus the name of this ingredient. Many believe that the seeds are the secret to a peppers pungency. Au contraire, as in fact, its the internal ridge of the pepper that the seeds are attached to, that make your tongue tingle. Capsaicin will irritate any human tissue its comes into contact with. Thus, be careful handling peppers during food preparation, especially the eyes. Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling them. Capsaicin is a water based, odorless and colorless substance, so beware.

Capsaicin was first discovered in 1816. Originally called capsicin the name was changed in 1876. The first two incarnations of this matter were in an impure form. It was almost 1900 before the pure form as we know it today became readily available.

Capsaicin is particularly stimulating to the mucous membrane which is the reasons it is dispersed in food items where a burning sensation is the desired result. It is prevalent within hot sauces and salsas as an example.

In its purest form it measures a whopping 16,000,000 on the Scoville scale, which is the official standard as to how hot items, usually peppers, are compared.

Studies have suggested that the consumption of capsaicin in normal quantities may eliminate prostrate cancer cells. It is also believed the possibility exists in the apoptosis (death) of cells associated with lung cancer. While capsaicin is not a dietary product, a correlation has been found that once a persons weight has decreased, the capsaicin assists in stifling weight regain. It has also been shown to be helpful in the reduction of pain connected to rheumatoid arthritis.



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