Hot Peppers

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Are Hot Peppers the Perfect Food for the Hot Tropical Climate?

One of the more astounding things about living in the tropics is the absolute love for hot spicy food. The varieties of hot peppers are numerous and can be found in many forms from the Americas, to North Africa,

These peppers have a bite
Red Hot Chili Peppers

from the Mideast to Southeast Asia. While the Spaniards spread a number of hot pepper varieties found in the Americas across the world, local varieties have been used by the indigenous cultures of many regions.

There are ways hot peppers help make tropical life easier.

First, the spicy burn caused by chili peppers makes the body sweat which cools it off and that is the most evident practical way hot peppers make tropical life easier. That combined with their varied rich flavors and levels of heat are most likely the reasons they are so widely consumed. In addition to these observable effects there are a number of health related reasons to eat these bites of fire.

Health benefits and medical uses of peppers

  • Large concentrations flavonoids including Alpha Carotene, Beta Carotene, Lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • High concentration of antioxidants and other vitamins A, B1, B6, C and E
  • A good source of several minerals including Potassium, Iron, Manganese, Copper and Magnesium
  • The alkaloid chemical Capsaicin that is the key ingredient that gives the peppers their heat and much of their flavor has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol and lower arterial inflammation.
  • Capsaicin also provides the analgesic heat in many creams and rubs used to treat sore muscles and arthritis.
  • Capsaicin is also the active ingredient in hot pepper defensive spray used to deter attackers.

Suffice it to say hot peppers have practical, medicinal, and excellent nutritional benefits.

Red Hot Peppers, Where to Find them or How to Avoid them

Asian Hot Sauce
Southeast Asia Hot Sauce

Red hot peppers are found in many foods but the following list contains the principal uses we have encountered.

  • Salsas and Sauces
  • Pickled vegetables and hot oils
  • Red pepper powder and flakes
  • Curries
  • Prepared foods
  • Soups, stews and marinates
  • Fresh produce
  • Dried peppers

In Latin America hot chili peppers are called picante, in Asia hot oil is called Fire Oil and the sauces go by many names including Badjak and hot garlic sauce, in North Africa the sauces are called piri piri or harissa, in the Middle East it is called Zhug, but whatever it is called the fundamental ingredient is hot peppers. If you plan to retire in the tropics or just visit be prepared to develop your heat tolerance, both to the weather and to the food.

 





If you have any suggestions, ideas and or questions please leave a comment below.

10 thoughts on “Hot Peppers”

  1. I’m the type of person who’s loves everything spicy, I crave spicy foods. But, I haven’t tried a chili pepper in a number of years, because, as a young kid, around 10, 11 or 12, I ate a hot pepper that was far too spicy. And I believe that it did make my body sweat. Very interesting to know that people in the tropics tend to love spicy foods. I sometimes contemplate about being able to vacation in the tropics. I contemplate vacationing there as a celebration for overcoming my financial issues. I really like your breakdown of all of the benefits associated with eating peppers.

    1. Hi David,  you can get many of the health and nutritional benefits from Bell peppers and other not hot peppers.  I suggest working your way up the heat scale try a poblano or ancho chili pepper, very mild, try tam jalapeños slightly hot, try regular jalapeños but remove the seeds with a fork, hot ut not deadly, with the seeds, hotter.  

  2. I do love spicy. However it seems one day I can do spicy and the next I cant.

    Maybe I need to be in the tropics. That would be a great place to experiment.

    I have tried many peppers. Some are too hot and some are just right. The only way you are going to find out is through trial and error. But please for the love of God take small bites.

  3. Hot peppers grow well here in San Diego. For about 2 years a friend grew loads of different kinds in his backyard. He was a member of an international club that traded seeds. There was a rainbow of peppers growing back there and it was sad to see him move away.

    I love the vibrancy of hot peppers and most of them taste delicious. But some are sneaky. Bite into a habanero and you’re greeted with a pleasant citrusy flavor. But seconds later the heat comes along and smacks you upside the tongue. We once made the mistake of sauteeing them in a pan and created a noxious gas with fumes that made it hard to breathe.

    Another time, at a party, the guy who had been chopping habs stuck his hand into a bag of tortilla chips, infecting other chips in the process. A number of guests, not used to capsaicin of that magnitude, described their lips as being made of lava.

    Growing any ghost peppers down there? I like my food spicy but those are just too much for me.

    1. Hot peppers are an acquired taste no doubt.  We have grown one crop of Ghost Chilis but not again, too hot to use most of the time.  They do work in hot sauces and salsas but the vapors make them near impossible to use in sautees.  Thanks for the comment!

  4. Wow, I love spicy foods but I had no idea that hot pepper had so many benefits. Even so I am not sure I want those benefits via hot peppers though. I recently had an encounter with a hot pepper that was masquerading as a seasoning pepper.

    I love cooking with seasoning peppers, since it adds a nice flavor to the food. But this was no ordinary seasoning pepper. It was hot! So imagine having a hot meal with hot pepper. No way! I learned my lesson. In future, I am testing those peppers first before I use them, so I’ll know how much to use.

    1. I find it very interesting how different people react to hot peppers, what you describe as a bad experience my wife and I describe as a great dinner lol.  Thanks for your comments and by the way the health benefits are include in all peppers, even the non hot ones 

  5. Hi Robert,

    Yes, at first, it seems counterintuitive to be eating these spicy things in the humid heat.
    You also forgot to mention that they trigger release of “feel-great” hormones. Such as endorphins. These hormones are also good at calming down pain. Here you go – another two reasons to throw chilies in salads once in a while!

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