Nutrition

Chili: the healthy heat

Chili is one of the mostly most widespread spices in the world and comes in many different shapes and degrees of heat in front. In addition, the substance Capsaicin in the chili peppers has numerous positive effects on the body. In our new blog post you can find out everything about chili and capsaicin.

What is chili?

In the case of chili, it is is a hot-tasting paprika variety , which belongs to the nightshade family . In the trade, chilli is ground or dried on the one hand and offered as a fresh pod or sauce on the other. In addition, chili peppers are among the hottest foods; Capsaicinoids , especially the substance capsaicin, are responsible for the spiciness in chillies. The more capsaicin it contains, the hotter the food. For example, peppers contain up to 0.01% capsaicin, cayenne up to 0.3% and very hot chillies such as tepin or habanero a maximum of 0.85%.

Also: Did you know that chilli peppers are berries from a botanical point of view?

Ingredients of the chilli pepper

100 g fresh chilli peppers have 40 kcal and contain a lot of vitamin C, iron, zinc and magnesium. In addition, the small pods have their red color due to the high content of carotenoids .

The two main hot substances in chili peppers are capsaicin (69%) and dihydrocapsaicin ( 22%).

What is capsaicin?

Capsaicin is a naturally occurring alkaloid in many types of paprika . It is one of the capsaicinoids, which stimulate the heat or pain receptors of the oral mucous membranes and thus trigger the sensation of sharpness. The irritation causes the body to react with stress, increased perspiration and the metabolism is stimulated .

The so-called placenta in particular contains high concentrations of hot substances (90-99% of all capsaicins are localized here). The concentration then decreases with increasing distance from the placenta, so the tip is less sharp than the end of the stem.

How do I determine the heat in chilli peppers?

As early as 1912, the Scoville scale was developed to determine the sharpness of peppers and is still used today.

However, the The degree of spiciness used to be determined purely subjectively by tasting and diluting. Test subjects were asked to taste an increasingly diluted liquid from the sample and say whether they still noticed sharpness or not. The degree of dilution at which there was no longer any sharpness was called the Scoville degree.

Nowadays, the sharpness content is chemically-analytically determined by HPLC . This value depends on the capsaicin content in the dried fruit.

Table: Examples of some Scoville grades

Scoville degree Example
0 No heat, no capsaicin
0-10 Sweet peppers
100-500 Peperoni
2.500-5.000 Tabasco sauce
2.500-8.000 Jalapeno
30,000-50,000 Pure Cayenne pepper
100,000-200,000 Pepper spray
16,000,000 Pure Capsaicin in crystalline form

Chili_Beitragsbild_cayenne-peppers-2779828_1920

How do I neutralize chilli?

Capsaicin is soluble in fat and ethanol , but not in water . If you have eaten food that is too spicy, fatty foods will help. Sugar, starch and alcoholic beverages also neutralize the taste . Hands should be thoroughly washed with soap after cooking with chili. Because even small amounts in the eyes or on the mucous membranes can cause severe irritation . Edible oil helps to minimize these complaints.

Effects of capsaicin

Capsaicin binds to the TRP- Channel TRPV1 (Transient Receptor Potential Channel Vanilloid type-1), which is also activated when the body temperature increases. This means that the tissues are supplied with more blood and that endorphins (feeling of happiness) are released.

Capsaicin has numerous positive effects on the body as various studies show. For example, capsaicin has antibacterial, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic (anti-cancer) effects . It also shows a favorable influence on the intestinal flora and obesity . This is also supported by the following study: a research duo from Taiwan treated the fat cells with capsaicin in the laboratory. The number of cells with programmed cell death (apoptosis) increased, which led to a decrease in fat cells. Other scientists also found that an increased consumption of foods containing capsaicin is associated with a lower prevalence of obesity and a reduced body fat percentage .

In- Vitro and preclinical studies have also proven the effect of capsaicin for the reduction of metabolic disorders . These responses are mediated through the activation of TRPV1. The activation initiates various processes such as the activation of metabolic modulators and GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide 1). As a result, capsaicin can increase fat burning , improve insulin sensitivity and reduce body fat.

You want to activate your metabolism?

Furthermore, high doses of capsaicin are said to kill prostate cancer cells in mice and reduce blood pressure through the increased release of nitric oxide.

What should be considered when consuming it ?

There are no known harmful effects of chilli, if consumed in moderation. With an excessively high consumption of chillies, however, undesirable effects such as irritation of the mucous membranes, nausea, stomach pain or diarrhea were observed. However, it is not known what dose the affected person took. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment therefore recommends a maximum dose of 5 mg capsaicin per kg body weight for adults. For an adult weighing 70 kg, this corresponds to a capsaicin intake of 350 mg.

Children in particular are sensitive to spicy products. In the case of high consumption, poisoning can even occur. allergic intolerances are also known to chilli.

In general, you should get used to spicy food slowly so that the stomach lining is not irritated too much will.

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