Chile Peppers - Science of Chile Peppers
Science of Chile
Chiles, which are a fruit from the nightshade family, possess unique characteristics. They are able to produce a substance called capsaicin, a substance that no other plant is capable of producing.
Capsaicin is an
oil-born acid that is quantifiable, as we will discuss in the next
lesson. This acid is produced in the placenta, a cotton-like ball of
tissue that grows under the stem inside each chile—very similar to bell
peppers. The seeds and veins are attached to it. There are usually
four veins—two main veins and two auxiliary ones extending down the
sides, with a few seeds attached to each.
Using & Eating Chile Peppers:
So, if one wants to have a less hot dish using green chiles, the top inch of the chile could be discarded, as that has the greatest concentration of capsaicin. If one is particularly shy about chiles—they may wish to remove all of the seeds and veins to make the chile as mild as possible. However, it is always a good idea to eat the hottest possible chiles one can enjoy as the more capsaicin that is consumed, the better for one’s health.
Another approach to
taming chiles is to marinate them. In Mexico, it is very popular to
soak chiles in lime juice. For example, many recipes for one of their
national dishes, Chiles en Nogada, call for soaking the chiles overnight
in lime juice. You may use
another acidic ingredient, such as lemon juice, vinegar, or wine.
The wonderful healthful properties of Capsaicin stem from its ability to stimulate an endorphin reaction. The proportion of capsaicin present in a chile is in direct proportion to the endorphin reaction or “high” one will get. This high is triggered by the hotness of the chiles, and is an internal reaction; the more capsaicin one eats in total, the healthier and more stimulated one will be. Generally, endorphin reactions only come from intense physical activity (i.e. the runner’s high or the high from sexual activity). The health benefits are totally amazing—not the least of which is that the consumption of chiles assist with weight loss and with maintenance of a healthy weight.
As I detailed in Real Women Eat Chiles, endorphins were discovered in the brain of a pig only thirty years ago, in 1975, by John Hughes and Hans Kosterlitz. Endorphins are opiod neuropeptides, and they produce a morphine-like reaction in our bodies. The word comes from endogenous morphine or Greek for cerebrum. Vertebrates produce endorphins in the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. When they are released in the body, they resemble opiates in that they work as natural pain killers. They regulate one’s mood, relieve pain and hunger, assist memory, reduce aging by removing superoxides, and are even connected to the production of sex hormones.
In sum, endorphins are natural morphine receptors. The receptors are anti-stress hormones that relieve pain naturally. The more technical definition is that endorphins are small chains of peptides that actuate opiate receptors, producing a feeling of well-being. Twenty different types of endorphins have been discovered in the nervous system. There are four main types of endorphins: alpha, beta, gamma, and sigma. The most effective endorphin is the beta-endorphin, which gives the more euphoric effect to the brain; it is composed of thirty-one amino acids.”
The only other food substance known to produce an endorphin reaction is chocolate. However, its ability to produce an endorphin reaction is not nearly as great as that of Capsaicin. The combination of chocolate and chile is truly a stimulating one and was discovered long ago by the Aztecs.
The other physical activities producing endorphins are yoga, laughter, exercise and acupuncture.
From Real Women Eat Chiles, "The overall benefit of endorphin production is its reduction of the ravaging effects of stress, pain, suppression of hunger, increased memory, and a sense of well-being." Specifically, getting a “runner’s high” or a “second wind” or the blissful feelings one gets after sex are related to increased endorphin production. Since eating chiles is one of the consumable ways of producing endorphin reactions, why not find your very own way to unfold this pleasure source? With the healthful properties of chiles, the main challenge to the uninitiated is just discovering the tastes and recipes that are pleasurable and the levels that are most pleasing.
The way chiles work in the body is that they stimulate the use of oxygen, especially when paired with exercise. It is always best to exercise early in the day as that gets the body off to an efficient start so it burns more oxygen and operates more efficiently all day long, which also creates a heightened sense of well-being.
A side benefit of
eating chiles is that they produce a craving. This means that the more
chiles you eat, the more you will wish to eat. So get ready, you will
find yourself actually reaching for the hot sauce if there is nothing
else to spice up your food. As an experiment,
purchase a green chile, any type, and cut it open to study the placenta,
veins and seed location.
Health Benefits of Chile Peppers:
Chiles in sum make
our bodies more efficient. They help our body’s ability to digest fats
by decreasing the absorption of cholesterol, and enhancing the liver’s
production of enzymes, reducing the storage of triglycerides.
Truly it is not
amazing that the ancients liked chiles so much!