Why Do Some Cultures Eat Spicy Foods?


Why Do Some Cultures Eat Spicy Food

Why do some cultures eat spicy foods while others lean toward a milder fare? You may have noticed that even food that comes from regions near each other may vary greatly in the spice levels of their food. For example, at a typical Chinese restaurant (here in America) you can find instances of this phenomenon. Most Chinese food is fairly mild, but the Sichuan (aka. Szechuan) region often lends some spicier dishes to our Chinese menus.

Why does this happen across the globe you may ask? This article will take a look at a few examples and explore the reasons behind such occurrences.

Where do chili peppers come from?Central America Cenote

Although there are several cultures and cuisines around the world that we now associate with spicy food, it is important to understand that all peppers originally came from South and/or Central America. Peppers were one of the items that made its way from the Americas back to Europe after Columbus made his journey across the Atlantic.

Once peppers were brought back to Europe they were then able to make their way across Europe and into Asia by traders and missionaries. I find it really incredible that something that is now considered a staple in some countries and regions was actually only introduced to them four or five hundred years ago.

Why did some countries

adopt chili peppers so wholeheartedly?

Without much investigation at all, it is fairly evident that most areas that use a lot of hot peppers happen to be in warmer climates. If you have spent as much time reading and learning about hot peppers as I have, it seems that this may be due to the natural ability of spicy chilis to kill certain bacteria and micro-organisms.

Dried PeppersAs mentioned in an article by thedailymeal.com in 2015, research by Cornell University says that this benefit of spicy peppers to lower the incidences of food-borne bacteria, especially in times before refrigeration, would have been extremely useful. Particularly in warmer climates where bacteria can thrive much more easily than in cooler climates.

That article also proposes that the reaction of your body to sweat while eating spicy food may have added a cooling affect for people in hot regions. (To understand why this happens you can check out my article about how and why chili peppers react with your body.)

Another theory that I have, adding to the attractiveness of peppers, is that they are easy to grow. I don’t have much of a green thumb, sadly, but I have had pretty good success growing hot peppers. Also, you can get a lot of peppers from even one small bush, and a little bit often goes a long way with these spicy little fruits.

Sichuan region of China

Snipped from Google Maps

One more thing to add to this is that most chili pepper plants also need a warmer climate to grow and flourish. This is an obvious explanation of why they are more popular in warmer regions. No matter what part of the world you talk about, the people would have obviously been eating plants that can grow there- whether they are native or brought there, they need to grow well to consistently make it in to the regions’ cuisine.

This is the most likely explanation for the phenomenon I mentioned earlier of areas like the Sichuan region of China having spicier dishes than other parts of the same country. The Sichuan region is in the southwest area of the very large country of China, and this area is much more humid and warm than other more northerly areas, making it a perfect place to grow peppers.

Spicy Countries

South American countries, like Mexico, that have had chili peppers available to them from the beginning, have incorporated peppers into almost everything. Although they have often found ways to tame the heat of the pepper in many dishes, the flavor and health benefits of them are invariably in every meal.Trindad Moruga Scorpion

Many of the hottest peppers in the world come from Caribbean islands such as Trindad and Jamiaca. Needless to say, these island nations have some deliciously spicy recipes. Due to cultural cross overs from Europeans bringing people from Africa and India to the islands, you can find quite creative dishes…really the original fusion food. Seemingly out of place, you will find that many of Jamaica’s most popular local dishes actually contain curry.

Thailand probably stands out to many of us as one of the spiciest cuisines. I have talked with several people from Thailand or who have lived there, and seems to be fairly common place for people to grow hot peppers in their yards. Here in the US we often even call the small, potent chilis found in much of Asian cuisine “thai” peppers or chilis. FYI, they are actually called bird’s eye chilis.

Spicy Thai FoodMost of China’s cuisine does not make us think of anything spicy, but as I was saying earlier in this article, parts of China are famous for their spicier fares. The Sichuan (where my favorite, Kung Pao Chicken comes from!) and Hunan areas in particular, are most well known for spicing it up. Of course these somewhat southwestern areas are nearer to other Asian countries that also showcase spicy dishes, i.e. ThailandTibet, Bhutan, and Nepal.

Another country famous for its heated dishes is India (This is where the infamous Ghost Pepper comes from). Like Jamaica, not only do some Indian dishes contain hot peppers, but also hot currys. Jamaican heat is often tamed down by the addition of something a little sweet, but this isn’t really the case in Indian food.

Many African countries also have great spicy dishes, such as Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria, Ghana, and Morocco. If you have ever seen the Ben Stiller movie, “Along Came Polly” you may know that Moroccan food is not for people with week stomachs.

Building up a Tolerance

The countries listed above have been eating hot peppers for centuries. It is part of who they are. They have most definitely built up a tolerance to spicy foods. Many of their regular everyday dishes would probably be much too spicy for many Americans. Especially older Americans whose families have been here for a few generations, or that come from mild Northern European or Northern Asian countries.

Even though the United States borders Mexico, the birthplace of hot peppers, most of our country’s cuisine is oddly mild. Luckily, in recent decades food from other countries has gotten more and more popular, allowing some heat to infiltrate our menus.

Some of the southern US states do have a spicier array of regular meal options than the rest of the US. The Cajun cuisine of Louisiana shows its spicy influences from South America and the Caribbean.Buffalo Wings

More recently the addition of Buffalo Wings to american culture as helped spur the growing popularity of spicy foods, at least with young men. Of course, there are plenty of us women out there who love those saucy, spicy little wings too, but oddly, it does seem to really entice more men. Maybe it’s because they can get a little too messy for some prissy chicks. Not this lady, I love me some hot wings!

For chili pepper loving Americans like me, it is really exciting that spicy food is finally making waves all across America. One of the big jump starters for the spicy food craze, that is helping us to build up a tolerance nationwide, was the introduction of the Indian Ghost Pepper as the hottest pepper in the world. Taking first place in the Guinness Book of World records in 2007 as the first chili to be tested at a Scoville rating of over 1,000,000 Scoville Units.

Ghost PepperThe clever and haunting name seemed to elicit much excitement among many people. Most people, even people who don’t like spicy food are now familiar with this famous little pepper. Its real name is bhut jolokia, but that just isn’t as catchy as Ghost Pepper now is it? The popularity of this pepper spawned an explosion of all kinds of spicy sauces, and encouraged cultivators to find and create the hottest peppers on earth. (Check out my article on the Top 10 Hottest Peppers in the world for information and history on this topic, and also my recommendations for the best and spiciest hot sauces.)

In Conclusion…Why Do Some Cultures Eat Spicy Foods?

I hope this article gave you some insight into the spread and use of hot peppers across the world, and answered the question of why some cuisines are spicier than others. Chili peppers are really an interesting topic for so many reasons. The history and health benefits are seemingly never ending.

Please feel free to explore this website and read more about the awesomeness of chili peppers. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment below or you can reach me through the contact form in the main menu above. I will get back to asap! Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Spicy Cuisine

 

 

Supplements That Help Fight Cancer- Capsaicin and Cancer


Supplements That Help Fight Cancer

Do Chili Peppers Fight Cancer?

Studies show that capsaicin is proving itself to be one of the important supplements that may help fight cancer, in addition to its many other health benefits. I wanted to take this time to share with you all, in an easy to read article, what cancers chili peppers may help stave off and why.Chili Peppers

This site is dedicated to everything spicy. But beyond giving you that awesome endorphin rush, chili peppers also have many other benefits that I aim to continue to share with you all. This article will go over how capsaicin (found in hot peppers) can help fight cancer, along with highlighting some other natural supplements that work along side capsaicin to keep you healthy and ward off cancer.

How Do Chili Peppers Fight Cancer?

According to an article published by cbsnews.com in 2013 Dr. Michael R. Freeman, a cancer researcher, says capsaicin has killed cancer cells in the lab.

“Freeman, director of the Cancer Biology Program at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said, ‘Cancer cells can be induced to activate a suicide program biochemically by certain sorts of molecular processes. And capsaicin is known to bind to a protein on the membrane of certain cells, and in response to this binding, the tumor cell responds by killing itself.'”

In lab tests on cancer prone mice, the addition of capsaicin along with components found in fresh ginger drastically reduced cancer occurrences. The two together help activate the TRPV1 receptors, which lead to slower growth of cancer cells and cancer cell death in some cases. (mercola.com)

What Type of Cancer Does Chili Peppers Fight?

This is somewhat limited to the studies which have been done using capsaicin and cancer cells. Capsaicin has had positive affects on the reduction of breast cancer and lung cancer, but may be beneficial for many more types of cancer, if not all of them.Survivor

Smokin Ed Currie, of Puckerbutt Pepper Company is a cancer survivor. He feels very strongly that chili peppers have majorly contributed to his continuing a cancer free life. He feels so strongly, in fact, that he has donated millions of pounds of hot peppers to cancer research.

Currie is most famous for breeding and cultivating the World’s Hottest Pepper- the Carolina Reaper. You can read more about this pepper in my Top Ten Hottest Peppers article.

Are Certain Chili Peppers Better For You Than Others?

Capsaicin is the substance found in hot peppers that makes you mouth feel like it is burning, so the hotter the pepper the more capsaicin the pepper has. Since capsaicin is the active ingredient in chili peppers that is responsible for decreasing cancer cells, it makes sense to surmise that the hotter the pepper, the better it is for you. Hot Peppers

However, most of us can’t eat a 2,000,000 SHU pepper. For me personally, I choose to eat peppers that aren’t so hot more often, as opposed to trying to eat super hot peppers less often. Chili peppers have many other benefits besides just fighting cancer, so making chili peppers and/or hot sauce a regular part of your diet is a win win.

Supplements That Help Fight Cancer

Each of these listed below can be taken naturally by adding certain foods to your diet, but they are also available in supplemental form.

Capsaicin- The molecule found in chili peppers that gives it its infamous spicy pungent taste and aroma. I choose to eat hot sauce and chili peppers on a regular basis. If this is not an option for you though, you can buy Capsaicin supplements at your local drugstore. (I will be doing a full article on the best brands of Capsaicin Supplements in the near future.)Sunshine

Vitamin D- We can get Vitamin D from the sun and also from foods. The main food sources of Vitamin D are animal sources, namely fish… Salmon, sardines, herring, oysters, and egg yolks to name a few.

If you are a vegetarian some foods have Vitamin D added to them, such as certain brands of orange juice and cereal. But you can always take Vitamin D supplements in pill form. Vitamin D also helps your body absorb Calcium.

Omega-3- Found in fatty fish, such as salmon, Mackerel, and Herring. Other good sources of Omega-3 are Flaxseeds, Chia seeds, Walnuts, Algae, and it can also be purchased in supplemental form.

6-gingerol- Found in raw ginger. As mentioned above, this is shown to be very beneficial when taken along with capsaicin. Ginger also has many other health benefits besides helping to fight cancer.Turmeric and Ginger

In most stores you may find this supplement listed as Ginger Root rather than by 6-gingerol.

Curcumin- This is found in the spice called Turmeric. I have heard about turmeric in the news a lot recently. Although some cultures have been regularly using this spice for centuries, it seems we here in the United States are just figuring out how beneficial it really is.

Summary

It is becoming almost irrefutable that capsaicin may aid in cancer prevention and the slowing of cancer cell growth, and in some cases cancer cell death. Studies are continuing all the time to see just how effective capsaicin truly is. In the mean time, as studies and results build, the health benefits of capsaicin and the possibilities of its affect on cancer should be enough to motivate someone to make sure it is a part of their diet.Capsaicin Peppers

Adding other things such as Ginger and Omega-3’s are also really important, and may also aid in the effectiveness of capsaicin.

A regular healthy diet, exercise, and good sleep habits are also very important to a healthy body and should be done in conjunction with all other efforts.

I wanted to state that I am not a scientist or a doctor, by any means. I do, however, care a lot about destroying cancer, and want to share everything I learn with the world if it can help at all. I would also like to add, that if you are taking other medications, or have any medical issues, including cancer, you should always consult a doctor before adding any supplements.

Also, make sure to check out this article on the additional Health Benefits of Hot Peppers and Capsaicin for more intriguing and amazing facts about these awesome little fiery fruits.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions I would love to hear from you. Please make sure to leave a comment below and I will get back to as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

Does Spicy Food Boost Your Metabolism?


 

Does Spicy Food Boost Your Metabolism

Does spicy food boost your metabolism? This is a question that many of us have asked ourselves, especially if you have experienced the rush that comes with eating chili peppers or hot sauce. You feel the heat in your mouth and on your lips, an you may even begin to sweat.

It is natural to think the reaction your body has from ingesting spicy food must be accelerating something. Which leads you to inevitably wondering if it can help you lose weight by speeding up your metabolism.

This article will go over some of the basics about metabolism. We will let you know what you can do to give it a boost, and what impact spicy foods can have on your metabolic rate.

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What is TRPV1- The Capsaicin Receptor


What is TRPV1

Although I am not a scientist, I thought it might be interesting to give a down-to-earth run down on some of the information about this amazing gene found throughout our bodies (and in many animals too).

What is TRPV1? That can be a somewhat complicated answer, but to begin with, it stands for transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1. It is nicknamed the Capsaicin Receptor, because it is actually what lets us know that we have eaten or touched something spicy hot. It also performs other interesting related functions that we will go over here today.

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WellPatch Capsaicin Pain Relief Patch vs Salonpas Hot Capsicum Patch


WellPatch Capsaicin Pain Relief Patch

If you have made you way to this article I gather that you are aware of some of the health benefits of chili peppers and the capsaicin they contain. There are many products out there trying to bring these benefits to the public. So, I thought I should take some time and do a comparison on the WellPatch Capsaicin Pain Relief Patch vs the Salonpas Hot Capsicum Patch.

These are the two most widely used main stream patches containing capsaicin, so I wanted to see how they stack up to one another.

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Why Does Spicy Food Cause Hiccups?


 

Why Does Spicy Food Cause Hiccups

Why Does Spicy Food Cause Hiccups? There is actually a lot of debate around this question. I decided to put some research into this topic after I wrote my Top 10 Hottest Chili Peppers article.

While I was writing that article I watched tons of videos of people eating hot peppers. To my surprise, a good percentage of the people started hiccuping almost immediately after ingesting the spicy treat.

This peaked my interest…Why would that cause hiccups? It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it can’t be a coincidence that so many people experienced this phenomenon, so something must be causing it.

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Hot Pepper Health Benefits


Hot Pepper Health Benefits

Today I am going to let you know about many hot pepper health benefits that you may not be aware of. Chili peppers have been used in a myriad of ways for many centuries, and should continue to be used for many health related reasons today.

Of course, I am a huge fan of hot peppers! But here in the United States, other than hot wings, hot sauce, and the occasional chili cook off, most american food does not typically feature a lot of hot chili peppers.

Depending on which region of the US you come from you may, of course, find spicy foods more prevalent. But generally speaking our food is pretty mild.

Also, although the desire to use holistic remedies and natural medicinal options may be on the rise, most of us rely on over the counter and prescription pharmaceuticals to aid us for most ailments. There are, however, some great natural treatments for common issues using hot peppers and the beneficial chemicals and compounds found within them.

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