Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Antioxidant benefits of chili pepper fruit and leaves

I read an interesting article about chili pepper from Dr. Rodriguez, Professor from the Institute of Chemistry, University of the Philippines. Her article detailed the promising health and wellness benefits of fruits and vegetables and I want to focus strictly on Peppers. According to Dr Rodriguez, photochemical are what help people stay healthy. Phytochemicals are chemical compounds that occur in fruits, vegetables and other plant species consumed by man.  These naturally-occurring compounds which act as anti-oxidants capable of metabolizing free-radicals in the body that can cause cell death.
In chili pepper, carotenoids and phenolic acids are the phytochemicals that can be derived from its leaves and fruits. The potential disease-preventive mechanisms of pyhytochemicals in fruits and vegetables and their constituents are not limited to antioxidant activity alone.  The phytochemicals can also act in the modulation of detoxification enzymes, stimulation of the immune system, alteration of cholesterol mechanism, and blood pressure reduction.clip_image001
My wife grows the most common species of chili peppers in our garden. She utilizes the fruit and leaves from all varieties in preparing culinary dishes. The capsicum frutescens is my favorite and is one species of chili pepper that has the potential to reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, cataracts, and macular degeneration. The labuyo fruit was earlier utilized as a herbal plant to ease arthritis and rheumatism and is suppose to be an effective cure for dyspepsia, flatulence, and toothache.
The leaves and fruits both can both be consumed in a variety of culinary dishes. The leaves, freshly picked from our garden and cooked in soups or stir fry dishes are one of my summer favorites. Leaves should be added during the last 3 or 4 minutes of cooking. Capsicum may cause stomach irritation. Should not be taken during pregnancy and lactation.
All hot chili peppers contain photochemical know as capsaicinoids. Here is some interesting information:
Capsaicin was shown, in laboratory settings, to cause cancer cell death in rats.
Research in mice shows that chili (capsaicin in particular) may offer some hope of weight loss people suffering from obesity.
Researchers used capsaicin from chilies to kill nerve cells in the pancreases of mice with Type 1 diabetes, thus allowing the insulin producing cells to start producing insulin again.
Research in humans found that “after adding chili to the diet, the LDL, or bad cholesterol, actually resisted oxidation for a longer period of time, (delaying) the development of a major risk for cardiovascular disease.
Researchers found that the amount of insulin required to lower blood sugar after a meal is reduced if the meal contains chili pepper.
Chili peppers are being probed as a treatment for alleviating chronic pain.
Spices, including chili, are theorized to control the microbial contamination levels of food in countries with minimal or no refrigeration.
Studies found that capsaicin could have an anti-ulcer protective effect on stomachs infected with H. pylori by affecting the chemicals the stomach secretes in response to infection.
By combining an anesthetic with capsaicin, researchers can block pain in rat paws without causing temporary paralysis. This anesthetic may one day allow patients to be conscious during surgery and may also lead to the development of more effective chronic pain treatments.
Here are seven reasons to turn up the heat in your next meal.
The main reasons you should include chili fruit and leaves in your diet.
Fight Cancer: Studies have shown that capsaicin causes cancer cells to commit suicide.
Pain Relief: A topical form of capsaicin can be used to treat osteoarthritis pain. Studies have found that capsaicin both relieves and prevents cluster headaches, migraine headaches and sinus headaches.
Sinusitis and Congestion Relief: Capsaicin has potent antibacterial properties that fight and prevent chronic sinus infections, or sinusitis. Because it is hot, it also helps to stimulate secretions that help clear mucus form your nose, which relieves nasal congestion. May also help relieve sinus=related allergy symptoms.
Fight Inflammation: Capsaicin is an anti-inflammatory agent. It has the potential for treatment for arthritis, psoriasis and diabetic neuropath.
Intestinal Diseases: Capsaicin may lead to a cure for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The substance can help bacteria, which can help prevent stomach ulcers.
Lose Weight: Capsaicin is a thermogenic agent which increases metabolic activity. This helps to burn calories and fat.
Heart Protection: Capsaicin may help protect your heart by reducing cholesterol, triglycerides and platelet aggregation. It may also help to dissolve fibrin, which is necessary for blood clots to form. Many cultures around the world use hot peppers in their food and have significantly lower rates of heart attack and stroke than cultures that do not.
I will end this article with some information I just found out about “How Hot is your Pepper”.
Hot peppers’ heat is measured using the Scoville Heat Scale. While pure capsaicin measures in at over 16 million Scoville Units, most popular varieties rank around 30,000. Bell peppers make up the baseline, at zero Scoville Units. While the habanero pepper was once thought to be the hottest pepper, measuring in at 300,000 units, an Indian chili pepper called Naga Jolokia was tested in 2000 and received a searing score of 855,000 units! Most recently, a friend of mine provided me with a pepper extract that has a scoville rating of 1 Million?


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