What are the benefits of hot peppers? On August 27, 2012 PuckerButt Pepper Company, a manufacturer and distributor of all natural chili pepper products and seeds, announced the debut of the world’s hottest pepper: Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper. According to Ed Currie, founder of the PuckerButt Pepper Company,
“We have raised the bar for heat intensity by surpassing the current world record holder, the Butch T. Trinidad Scorpion,”
Analytic chemist Cliff Calloway, Ph.D., M.S., B.A. from Winthrop University evaluated the seed pods over a four-year testing period and concluded that the Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper pepper averaged 1.474 million on the Scoville Scale rating, 280 times hotter than a jalapeño!
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Scoville Heat Index
More than just bragging rights, the Scoville Scale measures heat intensity and the number of Scoville heat units (SHU) indicates the amounts of capsaicin present in each pepper. To give you a feel for how powerful Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper really is, pure capsaicin has a Scoville rating of 16 million. American pharmacist Wilber Scoville designed the test known as the Scoville Organoleptic Test in 1912 while working for Detroit-based pharmaceutical company Parke Davis. Originally based on human responses (can you imagine being a volunteer subject for this test!), today machines measure the amount of capsaicin contained in peppers.
Health Benefits of Hot Peppers
There is a number of health benefits of hot peppers and they are well known for their supply of fiber, vitamins A, C, K and minerals molybdenum and manganese. They also contain a significant amount of lycopene (which is known to kill ovarian cancer), lutein and zeaxanthin (which are praised for their effects on cataracts and macular degeneration). By far, though, the most significant health aspect of spicy peppers is that they are a rich source of capsaicin, the antioxidant responsible for heat index.
Capsaicin Health Benefits
Capsaicin is colorless, flavorless, odorless, and a pepper’s capsaicin level is directly proportional to its antioxidant level. In other words, the hotter a pepper is, the healthier it is. As people eat hot peppers over time, the pain receptors on the tongue are repeatedly stimulated. In time, that person becomes desensitized to its painful effect. In fact, it has been observed that the pain people often feel when eating hot peppers can actually become quite pleasurable because spicy peppers release endorphins, the “pleasure hormone.” It fact, it is believed that the ancient Aztec and Mayan civilizations considered chili peppers an aphrodisiac.
Even though it has been praised for its health benefits for years, scientists have struggled to confirm capsaicin’s individual health benefits. Researchers are attempting to decode the mystery behind the spicy component to peppers and to explain capsaicin’s known efficacy in weight loss, appetite suppression and raising body temperature. Other proposed benefits to capsaicin include:
- Anti-inflammatory effects
- Protective effects in the liver and lungs against tissue damage
- Analgesic properties, bringing relief to various neuropathies
- Reducing pain associated with osteoarthritis
Preliminary studies done on animals have suggested that capsaicin can actually kill lung, pancreatic, and prostate cancer cells!
The Best Way to Eat Hot Peppers
Obviously, spicy peppers are good for us, but can stomach their heat index? One time, I tried eating a habañero fresh from our garden and let me tell you this: I only did this once. It literally sucked the air right out of me – I had the hiccups for an hour! My wife likes making something she calls Kick Um’ Juice – a tea made from habañero, jalapeño, prickly pear, fresh ginger and some other power-packed ingredients. Personally, I like to get my capsaicin from her homemade salsa.
Spicy Fruit Salsa Recipe
I’ve shared more of our favorite appetizer recipes so you can try them! This tasty sweet, HOT salsa recipe is jam-packed with health benefits and will kick the seat off your pants!
- 5 organic freestone peaches, peeled and pitted*
- 1 small organic cantaloupe (about 1 pound), peeled and seeded
- 12 ounces organic mango, peeled and pit removed
- 12 ounces organic strawberries, stemmed
- 1 cup organic pineapple cubes
- Freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 teaspoons organic coconut crystals***
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pink Himalayan salt or sea salt
- 3 fresh jalapeño peppers**
- 3 fresh banana peppers**
- 1 fresh cayenne pepper**
- 1 fresh habanero pepper**
- 2 drops cilantro essential oil
- 2 drops lime essential oil
- 2 drops lemon essential oil
- Combine the peaches, cantaloupe, mango, strawberries, pineapple cubes, lime juice, cilantro, coconut crystals, sea salt, jalapeños, banana peppers, cayenne pepper, habanero, and the essential oils in a blender or food processor.
- Pulse until the ingredients reach the desired consistency, anywhere from chunky to smooth.
- Depending upon the size of your processor, you may need to make this in batches. If so, combine the batches in a large bowl.
- Use immediately or portion into small glass or freezer-safe containers and refrigerate or freeze.
**To prepare the peppers without getting the volatile oils on your hands, snip off the tip with a pair of scissors and cut through the pepper several times. Remove all or most of the seeds and pulp; if you prefer a less spicy salsa, remove all the seeds and pulp using kitchen gloves.
***Use 2 dropperfuls liquid stevia while on the Fast Track