October 16, 2014

Chiles are an interesting food, found in cuisines all over the world. There are literally hundreds of chili pepper varieties ranging in all sizes, shapes, color, and heat. Chiles belong to the nightshade family, which includes foods like tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant. Capsaicin is the ingredient that gives peppers their heat that ranges from mildly sweet to slightly hot and of course to the fiery burn. Capsaicin also stimulates the release of endorphins, natural pain and stress fighters which leave some people enjoying the feeling.  Capsaicin has also been shown to decrease appetite, and slightly boost metabolism and fat oxidation.

But chilies provide more than just heat, nutritionally speaking peppers are high in vitamin C, and generally a good source of beta-carotene, potassium and vitamin B6. They are also low in calories and sodium, and contain some fiber and vitamin K.

So what pepper gets to claim itself the hottest pepper? The Carolina Reaper. Chili peppers are measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The Carolina Reaper scored 1.5 million SHU’s. The very mild jalapeno scores around 2500 to 5000 SHU’s. Personally, the jalapeno is too hot for me, and I can’t even cut one up without my fingers burning for hours. I like to enjoy Anaheim Peppers and sweet bell peppers.

If you need immediate relief from a hot pepper try consuming dairy, bread, or rice. Some of the well known peppers we see in grocery stores include poblano, jalapeno, habaneros, serranos, pasilla and many more. Try incorporating a new chili into a dish at home--add it to guacamole, a pasta salad or any soup.

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