Every day, a quarter of the world’s population consumes chili peppers in various nations. Before Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the New World in 1492, many people were unaware of these perennial plants, which are members of the Capsicum family. Of course, Columbus didn’t “discover” them. Numerous origin hypotheses identify Brazil, Mexico, and other regions of South America as “the” origins of chilies. Chili peppers can be cooked or dried and powdered, mainly used as a spice. Paprika is a red chili pepper that has been powdered.
The jalapeno, a 3-inch-long chile pepper with thick flesh, is America’s favorite (give or take). It’s a tiny, vibrantly green man that you can tenderly add to almost everything, from soups to lemonade. Most of our jalapenos are imported from Mexico, where locals pick them in large quantities from curbside carts and fields to use as snacks. The red jalapeno is slightly sweeter and milder than the green type. They are also milder than their cousin, the serrano, a popular but less well-known chili pepper than our preferred jalapeno.
Chilli Pepper Nutrition Facts (Red)
What is Chili Pepper?
The chili pepper is the fruit of plants in the Solanaceae (nightshade) family from the genus Capsicum. Chili peppers are classified as fruit rather than a vegetable. In the nightshade (Solanaceae) family, chili peppers are related to tomatoes, cherries, and eggplant.
Although chili peppers are South American in origin, they are currently produced worldwide due to their culinary and medicinal uses. According to legend, Christopher Columbus tried a chili pepper and mistook it for black pepper, calling it a “pepper,” even though the term is incorrect and still used today.
A classic and compelling motive to travel across the vastness of our world and to encounter various cultures is food. A long and laborious hunt for spices finds Christopher Columbus in great American history. The excellent dish Columbus brought back was called “aji,” also known as “child.”
Additionally, it’s interesting to note that the Nahuatl language of Mexico’s Indians gave the word “chili” to chili peppers. The “aji” was christened the “Calcutta Pepper” by Leonard Fuchs, a German botanist who thought Columbus had discovered India upon his return to Europe. And so it started.
What Makes Chili Peppers Hot?
Because of the slight “kick” we experience when we take a bite of jalapeno (or other gorgeous pepper), most of us adore them. Jalapenos are certainly tasty, but the powerfully added benefit of the spiciness that explodes in your mouth and ravishes your tongue elevates hot peppers to the rank of the world’s greatest flavors.
All hot peppers contain capsaicin, responsible for the spiciness we all adore and crave. It’s interesting to note that the chili pepper is the only plant that contains capsaicin. Even one drop of this chemical in a mixture of 100,000 parts water leaves a distinctly peppery taste. Isn’t that wonderful?
The glands in the placenta of the chili pepper, which are located at the top of the pepper beneath the stem, create the flavorless, odorless compound known as capsaicin.
How do you Measure Chili Pepper Heat?
It only makes sense to gauge the pepper’s heat by counting how much of the heat-producing compound capsaicin is present in the pepper. So how?
- A pharmacologist named Wilbur Scoville created a standard in 1912 for calculating the amount of capsaicin and, consequently, the intensity of pepper heat.
- Interestingly, he termed the test the “Scoville Organoleptic Test.” There’s a name for you right now.
- Scoville added ground chili peppers to an alcohol and sugar solution. After that, he had five tasters rate the mixture’s heat.
- Since then, we’ve developed more complex systems for classifying pepper spiciness into units called “Scoville Units” in honor of the guy who undertook such a great and honorable effort.
- The Scoville heat scale ranges from 0 for a typical bell pepper to upwards of 200,000 to 300,000 for a fiery habanero. I am speaking of hot! What a range, too! The optimum balance of heat and flavor is found in jalapenos, which have a Scoville rating of around 5,000.
Vitamins and Minerals
There are many different vitamins and minerals in chili peppers. They do, however, make up a very little portion of your daily consumption because they are only consumed in small amounts. These hot fruits have
- Vitamin C. Chili peppers are very high in this powerful antioxidant, which is important for wound healing and immune function.
- Vitamin B6. A family of B vitamins, B6 plays a role in energy metabolism.
- Vitamin K1. Also known as phylloquinone, vitamin K1 is essential for blood clotting and healthy bones and kidneys.
- Potassium. An essential dietary mineral serving various functions, potassium may reduce your risk of heart disease when consumed in adequate amounts.
- Copper. Often lacking in the Western diet, copper is an essential trace element, important for strong bones and healthy neurons.
- Vitamin A. Red chili peppers are high in beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A.
Other Plant Compounds
Chili peppers are a rich source of spicy-hot capsaicin. They are also very high in antioxidant carotenoids, linked to numerous health benefits.
- Capsanthin. The main carotenoid in red chili peppers — up to 50% of the total carotenoid content — capsanthin is responsible for their red color. Its powerful antioxidant properties may fight cancer. Here are the main bioactive plant compounds in chili peppers:
- Violaxanthin. Violaxanthin is the major carotenoid antioxidant in yellow chili peppers, which accounts for 37–68% of the total carotenoid content.
- Lutein. Most abundant in green (immature) chili peppers, lutein’s levels decrease with maturation. High consumption of lutein is linked to improved eye health.
- Capsaicin. One of the most studied plant compounds in chili peppers, capsaicin, is responsible for their spicy (hot) flavor and many of their health effects.
- Sinapic acid. Also known as sinapinic acid, this antioxidant has various potential health benefits.
- Ferulic acid. Like sinapic acid, ferulic acid is an antioxidant that may help protect against various chronic diseases.
The antioxidant content of mature (red) chili peppers is much higher than that of immature (green) peppers.
What are the Health Benefits of Chili Pepper?
Here are the eight impressive health benefits of chili pepper:
- The great list of chemical constituents in chili peppers that are recognized as healthy and disease-preventing chemicals is impressive.
- Capsaicin, an alkaloid molecule found in chilies, gives them their potently fiery and spicy flavor. Capsaicin has been shown to have antibacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic, and anti-diabetic effects in early laboratory investigations on experimental mammals. Additionally, it has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels in obese people.
- Red and green fresh chili peppers are excellent sources of vitamin C. Fresh chiles makeup roughly 143.7 g, or nearly 240% of the RDA, in 100 g.
- A strong water-soluble antioxidant is vitamin C. The body must produce collagen. One of the primary structural proteins needed to preserve the health of blood vessels, skin, organs, and bones is collagen.
- Regular consumption of vitamin-C-rich foods can reduce the risk of contracting scurvy, increase immunity, and scavenge damaging, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.
- Additionally, they are rich in other antioxidants like vitamin A and flavonoids like lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin. These antioxidant components in capsicum shield the body from the harmful effects of free radicals produced during stressful situations and medical disorders.
- Potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium are among the minerals that are somewhat present in chilies. Potassium is a crucial element of bodily tissues and fluids that helps control blood pressure and heart rate. Manganese serves as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase in the human body.
- In the B-complex vitamin family, which includes niacin, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin, and thiamin, peppers are also beneficial (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are necessary because the body needs to replace them from outside sources.
What are the Culinary Uses of Chili Pepper?
Here are the culinary uses of chili pepper:
- To eliminate any lingering fungicides and sand, raw, fresh chilies should be washed in clean water before being used in cooking. Fresh or ground chilies can produce acute hand burning and severe eye, throat, and nasal tract irritation. Therefore, some sensitive people may advise using thin hand gloves and a face mask while handling chilies.
- Many cultures worldwide eat fresh, raw bell peppers and other mild, sweet peppers as vegetables.
- In many Central American and European countries, chopped peppers make chili sauce, pizza, rolls, and various dishes with fish, beef, and chicken.
- The spice blend known as curry powder in many Asian nations must contain dried chili powder.
- Hot chilies are used as a seasoning in soups, chili sauce, oil, hot water, vinegar-spice mix, and other dishes.
- In South Indian states, chilies are offered as a side dish with dinner marinated in yogurt and dried in the sun.
Selection and Storage
Fresh, dried, or powdered chili peppers can be purchased at the markets all year. Instead of purchasing chili powder at the store because it frequently contains contaminated spice blends, opt to get fresh chili peppers.
Look for raw, fresh chiles that are small, healthy, and have striking hues (green, yellow, orange, or red, depending on the kind). Avoid items with stains or those with damaged or moldy tips.
Once inside the house, they should be kept in the refrigerator in a plastic bag where they can be kept for about a week before going bad. Red chiles that have completely dried out are frequently offered in marketplaces. Dry chiles can be kept for several months at room temperature in airtight containers in a cool, dark location. They can also be ground to a powder in a mixer or grinder.
Alternatively, choose genuine and branded goods if you want to purchase dried chili powder. Chili pepper powder must be in an airtight container and in a cool location.
Despite their intense heat, chili peppers are a popular spice recognized for their therapeutic and health-promoting qualities. The chili is a fruit pod from a plant in the Capsicum genus, which is a member of the nightshade family (Solanaceae).
The chili plant is a little perennial shrub with a woody stem that can reach a height of one meter. It is indigenous to Central America and has long been used as one of the primary spice elements in Mexican cuisine. Later, throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, Spanish and Portuguese explorers brought it to the rest of the world. Today, chili peppers are grown extensively as a significant commercial crop in many regions.
Chili peppers are grown in wide different varieties all over the world. A chili plant develops flowers that later mature into fruit pods that vary in size, shape, color, and spice based on the cultivar type. Furthermore, their heat intensity varies according to the cultivar type, from mild and fleshy (like Mexican bell peppers) to blazing, like the tiny Indian subcontinental Nag Jalokiya chili peppers.