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Dried Chilies

Chile Pepper Facts

By Eric Vinje, Cosmic Chile

• Two of the founding fathers of our country, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, are both known to have grown chiles.

• Capsaicin is a colorless, pungent, crystalline compound, C18,H27NO3.

• The shorter the molecular chain, the hotter the pepper.

• Chili and chile are both the pungent fruit of the capsicum, also called chile or chili pepper. But chili is a shortening of chili con carne, a ground beef dish that incorporates chili powder or chili peppers. And Chile, capitalized, is a country.

• The heat from a chile pepper is concentrated in the interior veins or ribs near the seed heart, not in the seeds as is commonly believed (the seeds taste extra hot because they are in close contact with the hot veins).

• Chilies can make foods safer - they are known to reduce harmful bacteria on foods.

• The burning sensation that makes chile peppers so appealing to culinary thrill-seekers comes from capsaicin or more accurately a collection of compounds called capsaicinoids.

• More than 140 varieties of chilies peppers are grown in Mexico alone.

• 1 out of every 4 people on the planet eat chilies every day.

• Too much heat? Do not drink water- capsaicin which is an oil, will not mix with water but instead, will distribute to more parts of the mouth.

• Capsaicin has been associated with many cures that include lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol and warding off strokes and heart attacks, speeding up metabolism, treating colds and fevers, preventing cancer and pain control.

• Capsaicin is a flavorless, odorless chemical concentrated in the veins of chiles and peppers.

• When spicy foods are consumed, the common reaction of the body is to sweat, particularly on the forehead. The technical term for this is gustatory perspiration.

• Low in calories, chile peppers contain more vitamin A than carrots (especially red chiles).

• Capsaicinoids irritate the trigeminal nerve cells (the pain receptors in the mouth, nose and stomach), releasing the chemical messenger "Substance P." This causes the brain to produce endorphins, the morphine-like natural painkillers that give the body a sense of well-being. The "runners' high" is caused by these same endorphins.

• The official state vegetables of New Mexico are the chile and Frijoles (pinto beans).

• Chilies help you lose weight by increasing your metabolism.

• Chilies make it easier to stick to a healthy diet because the food has more flavor.

• Chilies can have an aphrodisiac-like effect on people.

• Ounce for ounce, green chile has more vitamin C than citrus fruits.

• One teaspoon of hot sauce may provide 100% RDA for Vitamin A.

• Chiles are the second most common spices in the world, following salt.

• If, when a chile pepper is cut open, the veins have a yellowish orange color in that area, it usually indicates the pepper will be a potent one.

• New Mexicans consume more chilies per capita than any other group in the United States.

• The chili pepper was first cultivated by the people of Central and South America around 3000 BC.

• The Mayans rubbed hot peppers on their gums to stop toothaches.

• For hotness, size matters. In general, the smaller the pepper, the hotter it will be. All the world's most potent peppers are under three inches long.

• Chile peppers are cholesterol free, low in sodium and calories, rich in Vitamins A and C, and a good source of folic acid, potassium and Vitamin E.

• The scientific journal Toxicon reported that drinking a quart and a half of Louisiana-style hot sauce will cause death by respiratory failure if your body weight is 140 pounds or less.

• Chilies are fruits not vegetables.

• People who eat chiles are generally healthier.

• The first European to "discover" Chili Peppers was Christopher Columbus in America in 1493. Within a century, chili peppers' popularity had spread worldwide.

• The Incas believed that eyesight was improved by eating chilies.

• In Mexico, a soup laden with chilies is a typical hangover cure.

• Chilies curb your appetite - especially for fatty foods and sweets.

• To date, the hottest chile pepper in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records is the "Red Savina" habanero. It measured an amazing 577,000 Scoville Units.

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