Chilli - Lamiaceae Family - Cultivation, properties and benefits of chilli

Chilli - Lamiaceae Family - Cultivation, properties and benefits of chilli


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Chillies contain icapsaicinoids which are a group of chemicals where the most represented and present in chillies is there capsaicin which together with dihydrocapsaicin (and other minor ones) is the main responsible for the spiciness of peppers.

These substances are formed from some glands that are found in the tissue that supports the seeds (placental tissue) while the seeds are totally devoid of them inside but contain them only externally, by contact with the placenta. These substances are very stable and resist both cooking, dehydration and freezing.

It was P. A. Bucholtz who isolated it in 1816 but it was only in 1846, thanks toL. T. Thresh which was synthesized and baptized with the name of capsaicin.

Capsaicin is irritating to all mammals and causes a more or less intense burning sensation depending on the amount of capsaicin contained in the fruit. It is not, however, for the birds that feed on these berries and consequently spread the seeds and are responsible for the extraordinary diffusion of chili peppers all over the world.

The feeling of feeling "your mouth on fire" that is, the sensation of heat we experience is not real, in the sense that there is no real increase in temperature in our mouth. In fact, capsaicin simply interacts with some thermoreceptors present in the mouth (stomach and anus) called VR1 and VRL-1 (responsible for signaling to the brain when the temperature exceeds respectively 43 ° C and 52 ° C) and makes them "trigger" as if there is a real rise in temperature in our mouth and then the brain gives us the burning signal.

This same sensation also occurs when we defecate as icapsocinoids are hardly digested and therefore, at the time of defecation, since those same receptors are also present in the anus, we have the burning sensation, also in this case, virtual.

Once the acute burning phase has passed, there is a good feeling of well-being which is due to the fact that the pain caused by capsaicin stimulates the brain to produce endorphins, natural opiates produced by our body to alleviate the pain that give a feeling of well-being.


WilburScoville conceived in 1912 a scale called SOT (Scoville Organoleptic Test) which measured the degree of spiciness which consisted in diluting the extract of chilli pepper in water and sugar which was then made to taste by 5 tasters.

The degree of dilution established the spiciness value of a peperonicino: equal to 0 (minimum value) for non-spicy sweet pepper and to 16,000,000 (maximum value) for pure capsaicin.

This method, however, had a major limitation: it was based on the individual sensitivity of people to spiciness for which it was replaced by other methods such as HPLC (High performance liquid chromatography) Also known as Gillette method which measures the quantity of Capsaicinoids contained in the chili pepper extract, rather than relying on individual sensitivity.

Even today, however, the name remainsgradationScolville even if the units of spiciness of the pepper are calculated with the HPLC and then converted in the Sconville scale (with different approximations of the data as there are errors in the conversion).

The most recent data indicate that chilli products and / or the hottest chillies are:

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Chilli: what it is, history, types, beneficial properties and uses in the kitchen

by Maura Pistello

Chilli is recognized as a food rich in health properties for our body. In fact, thanks to capsaicin - the alkaloid that makes it spicy - it helps digestion and has an analgesic effect. In addition, it also contains a large amount of vitamin C, so it is useful for strengthening the immune system. Its properties they are numerous and it is a spice that has many beneficial substances for the body.

Furthermore, the low calorie and carbohydrate intake and the good presence of dietary fiber make chilli pepper a particularly suitable vegetable for those who follow a diet that does not make you fat. A condiment that, if not accompanied by high-fat foods, is in able to increase the sense of satiety, has a mildly diuretic and laxative effect and helps intestinal peristalsis.

Furthermore, given the analgesic and anti-pain properties recognized to capsaicin, chilli is also used as a topical analgesic, such aschilli oil, for muscle pain.

Chilli is a widespread and widely used condiment in Italian cuisine, so much so that it is the characterizing element of some typical dishes such as spaghetti with garlic, oil and hot peppers, and the pennette all'arrabbiata.


Nutritional characteristics of chilli

Chilli is a food that falls into the VI and VII fundamental food group. It is a vegetable used mainly as a spice, fresh or dry. In other countries, for example in Central and South America, thanks to the habit of spicy taste, large quantities of chilli are eaten every day.
Chilli has a moderate energy intake, mainly provided by carbohydrates (fructose), proteins are very scarce, as are lipids.
It is cholesterol free and contains a good percentage of dietary fiber.
Ripe chilli is particularly rich in vitamins, especially its content ascorbic acid (229 mg of C vitamin per 100 grams of fresh fruit). Also of note is the generous presence of carotenoids (precursors of vitamin A) and a fair concentration of niacin (or vitamin PP).
The contribution of mineral salts is also good, especially potassium, less interesting but the levels of calcium and phosphorus are worthy of note.

This colorful set of nutritional principles (with the exception of vitamin C), is further concentrated in the spicy pepper, then in the dried fruit and possibly reduced to powder in the same way the spicy flavor is also strengthened with which every day a little liveliness is given. to the dullest dishes.

Are there any dietary contraindications?

Chilli pepper does not lend itself to nutritional regimes for the treatment of esophageal, gastric and intestinal diseases. Particular care is advised in case of stomach acid, gastroesophageal reflux disease, gastritis, ulcer, irritable bowel, hemorrhoids and anal fissures.

Although in these cases it is traditionally contraindicated, some clinical studies suggest how the constant use of chili pepper can prevent some of these pathologies (in particular gastric and duodenal ulcer) on the other hand, in the acute phase it is still a good idea to eliminate it from the diet.
Chilli has no negative repercussions in the treatment of overweight and metabolic pathologies.
The average portion of chilli used as a vegetable, assuming the tolerance to capsaicin, is equivalent to that of sweet peppers, ie 100-200 g.

Chilli / pepper
Nutritional values ​​per 100 g
Power 20 kcal
Total carbohydrates 4.64 g
Starch - g
Simple sugars 2.4 g
Fibers 1.7 g
Fat 0.17 g
Saturated - g
Monounsaturated - g
Polyunsaturated - g
Proteins 0.86 g
water - g
Vitamin A equivalent 18.0 μg 2 %
Beta-carotene - μg - %
Lutein Zexanthin - μg
Vitamin A - IU
Thiamine or B1 0.057 mg 5 %
Riboflavin or B2 0.028 mg 2 %
Niacin or PP or B3 0.480 mg 3 %
Pantothenic acid or B5 - mg - %
Pyridoxine or B6 0.224 mg 16 %
Folate 10.0 μg 3 %
Choline - mg - %
Ascorbic acid or C. 80.4 μg >100 %
Vitamin D - μg - %
Alpha-tocopherol or E 0.37 mg 2 %
Vit. K 7.4 μg 7 %
Football 10.0 mg 1 %
Iron 0.34 mg 3 %
Magnesium 10.0 mg 3 %
Manganese - mg - %
Phosphorus 20.0 mg 3 %
Potassium 175.0 mg 3 %
Sodium 3.0 mg 3 %
Zinc 0.13 mg 2 %
Fluoride - μg - %

Percentages refer to: "US recommendations" for adults.
Source: "USDA Nutrient Database"

The uses of hot pepper

The numerous properties of hot pepper make it a product with the most varied uses. Perfect food in the kitchen, it can be eaten safely, even every day, both cooked and raw, natural: the important thing, as usual, is not to overdo it. It is estimated that the allowable dose is between 0.3 grams and 1 gram per day per person, but it is absolutely subjective.

Widespread already in ancient times, together with salt, hot pepper is one of the most popular condiments in the kitchen by Italians. A pinch, diluted in a cup of hot chamomile with a little honey, is a natural digestive, absolutely effective. Try an excellent variant made by infusing the hot pepper powder in alcohol together with the cedar peel. For those, on the other hand, who want sweetness mixed with a singular aftertaste, there are various flavors of chilli chocolate, with a very intense flavor.

Hot pepper is an extremely versatile spice: its extracts are also used in the beauty and make-up sector. Capsaicin, in fact, also manages to prevent hair loss and is also an excellent beauty ally. Thanks to its active ingredients, the hot pepper has been used for cosmetic purposes since ancient times and today this "tradition" has been handed down from generation to generation.

Thanks to its many beneficial properties, creams rich in vitamin C and E are made, which are particularly useful for preserving our skin and with remarkable antioxidant and regenerating characteristics: these creams help the cellular turnover of the epidermis while also carrying out a strong anti-aging action.

Numerous, then, are the shampoos and lotions based on chilli pepper on sale on the shelves of shopping centers or in herbalist's shops. The now famous caspaicin has "magical" vasodilating powers, which favor the regrowth of the scalp: if applied sparingly in well-localized areas, it helps to counteract alopecia, giving strength and shine, improving the appearance of the hair.

The hot pepper is also used in the production of anti-cellulite creams, as it stimulates blood circulation and is useful in the treatment of skin blemishes such as annoying orange peel skin.

The hot pepper is, of course, known all over the world, especially for its aphrodisiac properties that develop particular sensations and emotions. If taken, hot pepper can cause irritation of the mucous membranes (including genital ones) and vasodilation of the erectile tissues found in the penis and clitoris. And it is for this reason that the hot pepper is considered a valid natural alternative to viagra, the famous blue pill, which "helps" boys in case of erectile dysfunction problems.

Chilli: curiosities, history and properties

Curiosities, history and properties of chilli

Chilli belongs to the Solanaceae family, the same as aubergines, tomatoes and potatoes.
In America, its place of origin is a perennial plant, while in Italy, and where the climate is more rigid, it is an annual plant.
The plant reaches an average of 100 cm in height and produces white flowers, from which the seeds are born. The chili pepper is of various size and shape and at birth it is green in color.
Chilli has been used since before 5500 BC as evidenced by archaeological finds found in Mexico and Peru. It arrives in Europe thanks to Christopher Columbus and its diffusion is due to the Spaniards.
The ease of cultivation did the rest. In fact, chilli became one of the most popular spices and also used in Africa and Asia, replacing the much more expensive cinnamon and nutmeg.
Chilli in the kitchen:

Chilli can be eaten fresh, dried, smoked, raw, cooked ... especially to flavor dishes and create sauces!
The "spiciness" is due to the famous capsaicin, contained as for paprika, in the placenta (not in the seeds, as many think). In Italy there are various examples of regional dishes that make abundant use of them:
Lnduja and sardella, cruschi peppers, Senise peppers. It is also used extensively in the world: in Mexico, the motherland, Africa, India, Thailand, Indonesia, China ...
Curiosity: once the pepper has been ground it changes the intensity of the taste, while the spiciness depends on the type and degree of ripeness: in fact the more mature it is, the stronger it is.

The property:

Chilli has many properties and beneficial effects, in fact it contains: vitamins (C, E, K, B, A), mineral salts including calcium, copper and potassium, carotenoids, bioflavonoids and lecithin. It is a great source of vitamin C:
containing 5 and a half times the vitamin C of orange. It improves blood circulation, promotes intestinal motility, reduces cholesterol, prevents infections, is antioxidant, stimulates tissue vitality, is antibacterial, and antihistamine.
It also helps in weight loss thanks to capsaicin, which gives a sense of satiety and helps increase metabolism.

It also has contraindications:
not recommended in case of: ulcer, gastroenteritis, cystitis, hepatitis, for children under 12, for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

There are 3 thousand varieties of chili peppers. They all have a different level of spiciness according to the type. This is evaluated with the Scoville scale (which ranges from 0 to 10 degrees). For example our common chillies
have a value of about 5 thousand units, the cayenne pepper about 50,000 SU while the Habanero, considered the hottest pepper in the world until 2006, has almost 600 thousand.
Currently the primacy is held by the Naga Jolokia, a kind of Indian pepper, with well 855,000 SU. It is so spicy that it is inedible and was used as an instrument of torture.

The survival of the chili is also due to capsaicin, which gives the typical spicy flavor. The curiosity is that the spread and survival of the chili pepper is due to this substance.
In fact, the mammals have been kept away from the fruit thanks to the sensation of spiciness it leaves. While the birds, immune to the taste of the substance, helped its spread, scattering the seeds!

Calabrian chilli is a completely natural, good and beneficial food, but not devoid of side effects is contraindications.

Let's say that, to reap the maximum benefits without taking unnecessary risks, it must be consumed in moderation and in a conscious way.

To be more precise, you should avoid eating chili in certain conditions, that is when you have stomach problems such as gastritis, gastroesophageal reflux and ulcer, but also in case of hemorrhoids, cystitis and hepatitis.

The absolute or almost absolute prohibition of ingesting chilli in the aforementioned situations arises from the highly irritating effect of capsaicin on the mucous membranes, which would be further stressed by it, with a consequent worsening of the disease.

In practice, the chili pepper "inflames" and therefore should be avoided in the presence of inflammation.

Furthermore, as already mentioned, capsaicin has the same effect on the skin, so stay away if you have wounds, irritations and / or skin diseases of any kind.

Pregnant and lactating women, as well as children under the age of 12, should make limited use of chili.

Benefits of chilli:

  • It is a vasodilator and stimulates blood circulation
  • Prevents cardiovascular diseases
  • It is an anti-inflammatory
  • Prevents prostate and stomach cancer
  • It reduces the pain
  • It is an antioxidant
  • It has aphrodisiac virtues

The capsaicin contained in the chili pepper it stimulates blood circulation, has vasodilatory effects, promotes the secretion of digestive enzymes, inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells and relieves pain like an anesthetic but without the same paralyzing effects. Furthermore, the vitamins present in chili peppers (vitamins A, C, E, K, P) have antioxidant effects, promote blood coagulation by exerting healing actions, strengthen the immune system, prevent colds and have peripheral vasodilating actions that give the chili pepper. aphrodisiac properties, known and alleged.

In conclusion i benefits of chillies are numerous, although not all confirmed, and these fruits of Capsicum plants (of the Solanaceae family such as tobacco, eggplant and tomato plants) are always at the center of numerous studies in progress to certify their effective beneficial properties.

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