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Chilli peppers

We know chilli peppers can be a variety of colours from red, yellow, orange, green, black and even purple. They can be long or short and often spicy but there are chilli peppers that have little to no spice. Chillies are classified as fruit for they are seed-bearing and flowering plants. They are regularly used for spices and medicine. The name came around when Christopher Columbus was looking for a new trade-in spice. That’s when he came across  “the new world” and the western natives, who offered him a chilli to try. As he ate the fruit he realised the heat/burning sensation and automatically thought back to black pepper and how they resemble a lot of characteristics with the “heat”. Hence how he came up with pepper and it stuck and it has been called chilli pepper ever since then.

Did you know: Chilli pods are technically classified as berries?

Chilli peppers originate from South America. They have many varieties and also a variety of the berry-fruit of plants from the genus capsicum which are members of the nightshade family. The origin of cultivating the chillies has been traced back 6000 years ago in Mexico by Historians when they found old ruins of pots and milling stones that had remains of starch grains from the capsicum genus. Chillies were used to cook in the tropical American local cuisine for the pungency, or spice for added heat, but are believed to be a part of our diets since about 7500 bc. It was only till the Columbian exchange that the chillies started reaching the rest of the world and now are one of the most cultivated chilli plants, especially in Peru. It is even said they are the first plants to also self-pollinate when cultivated in Mexico, Central America and South America. How cool!

Picked from organically grown plants in my backyard

One plant will give you plenty of chillies for the whole family for the whole year!

Miroslava

Have you ever wondered why they are so hot? 

Well, the substances that give chillies their pungency of spice are capsaicin and other chemicals such as capsaicinoids which when you eat them, they bind to the TRVP1 – the pain receptors in your mouth and tongue. That’s why you start to sweat and it feels like your mouth is on fire. Fun fact birds can eat these, for they lack that receptor responsible for feeling the pain. This is great for the plant for the seed sits inside its tummy waiting to be planted and it doesn’t get damaged or start to break down because of the stomach acid.

There are over 4000 varieties of chilli peppers but it is divided into 5 capsicum species and a further 28 wild species. There are only 5 species in cultivation the most common are Anatheims, Jalapenos, Cayennes, Pablanos, and Serranosans almost all the other chilli types used in the United States are the capsicum annum, the most familiar exceptions are the Habanero types.

So what are the benefits of chilli peppers? 

  • Vitamin A – red chilli peppers are high in beta carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A and that helps your body with many things such as vision, your immune system, reproduction, growth and development
  • Vitamin K1 – vital for blood clotting as well as healthy bone and kidneys
  • Vitamin B6 – plays a role in brain development and in keeping the nervous system and immune systems healthy
  • Potassium – which helps reduce your risk of heart disease, helps muscles to contract and supports normal blood pressure as well as maintaining normal levels of fluid inside our cells
  • Vitamin c – is very high in antioxidants which are important for healing wounds, helps with the immunity system, and protects your cells from free radicals which might play a role in cancers, heart diseases and other diseases.  Protects you against viruses and bacteria.
  • Copper – is important for strong bones and healthy neurons, this also helps with making the body energy, helps support the connective tissue and blood vessels and maintains the nervous and immune systems and activates genes
  • Weight loss – the chemical capsaicin can suppress appetite and help increases fat burning

Are there any negative effects? 

Of course, if you can’t stand spicy food it could cause severe pain, inflammation, swelling, stomach pain and diarrhea, and redness if you eat too much.

We highly recommend only eating chilli peppers 2-3 times a week when in season.

There are so many ways you can eat chillies. You can make a sauce, chilli meats, soups, powders, you can eat them raw, roast them, grilled or stuff and they are definitely great as an extra spice added to dishes.

I really hope you enjoyed this blog and always make sure to balance your foods, never have too much of one thing, we always like to say “stick to the seasons” therefore you’re always mixing it up and putting different foods into your body.  And as they say, variety is the spice of life.

Thank you and don’t forget to check out our video!

Tashi

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