I found some great information about Chili Peppers on Yahoo and wanted to make sure it was available here in once place, consolidated in the Ingredients Database.
The part I liked the best about the info I found is how in Africa the farmers used to grow Chili Peppers to keep the elephants away from their crops. I started to think about this and while I am definitely not an expert on animals (especially elephants… I have seen them on zoo’s but I have never even touched one) but it makes sense when you think about it.
Elephants use their trunks for everything, so if there were Chili Peppers in between the crop and the elephant it stands to reason that their trunks would detect this and it would act as a deterrent. Interesting stuff!
People have been cooking with chili peppers for a long time — almost 10,000 years, according to archaeologists. Since then, they’ve been used for everything from spicing up food to deterring would-be attackers. Japanese karate athletes eat chili to strengthen their willpower, and African farmers use it to keep elephants away from their crops.
Luckily, you don’t need elephant-size quantities to get the health benefits of these potent peppers. Studies have shown that capsaicin, the active ingredient in peppers, works as a great topical pain reliever for headaches, arthritis, and other chronic pain problems. Capsaicin inhibits the release of P-protein, which in turn interrupts the transmission of constant pain signals to the brain.
If you don’t feel like smearing it on yourself, oral capsaicin has been linked to the release of endorphins and the regulation of blood sugar. And scientists have demonstrated anticancer properties in test tube studies.
How much: Don’t like spicy foods? Don’t worry — as little as an eighth of a teaspoon can have positive health benefits.
Serving suggestions: There’s a whole world of chili peppers out there, from the mild poblano to the fiery habanero. It’s worth experimenting to find your favorite. Chipotle and ancho chili powders have been popular in recent years for their smoky zing, and they work particularly well in salsas, soups, chicken dishes — and even in caramel or chocolate desserts.
Tip: If you overdo the chili pepper, don’t reach for a glass of water — pour a glass of milk instead. Capsaicin isn’t water-soluble, but the caseins in milk block chili pepper heat effectively.