By S. Derrickson Moore / email@example.com
Posted: 08/31/2011 01:54:40 AM MDT
LAS CRUCES — What miracle food can both whet and curb your appetite, deliver mega vitamins, cheer you up, ease aches and pains, clear your sinuses, rev up your metabolism and lots more?
If you know the official New Mexico state vegetable and the answer to our official state question (“red or green?”) you can also identify our milagro cure-all: the chile pepper!
Chiles can deliver a wide range of health benefits, according to New Mexico State University Regents Professor of Horticulture Paul Bosland, director of NMSU’s Chile Pepper Institute, and his colleague, Danise Coon.
He and Coon have investigated scientific journals, complied research at NMSU and created a poster, “How Chile Peppers Help Your Body.”
The poster includes everything from nutritional benefits to cutting-edge medical research.
“We’re trying to educate the public that chile has multiple benefits and there’s more to them than just bite or heat,” Bosland said.
“One red chile pepper a day provides all the vitamin A you need and one green chile pepper has more vitamin C than six oranges. The most surprising thing for me was realizing how many products use chile,” he said.
Capsaicin, the active component in chiles, is used in creams for arthritis, and in patches and creams to relive sore and aching muscles.
“There’s no patent on capsaicin, so there’s no royalty incentive to market them,” he said.
“One of the most interesting studies, from UCLA Medical School, indicates that capsaicin kills prostrate cancer cells,” he said. While the poster notes that “some information has not been scientifically tested,” chile also reportedly aids in motion- and seasickness, treatment of ulcers and “helps ‘draw’ the poison out and reduce swelling of fresh insect stings and bites.”
Research has established that chiles “can help lower cholesterol and help burn calories by triggering a thermodynamic bum, which speeds up the metabolism,” Bosland said. “When you eat chile, your body’s immune system begins to be kicked up a notch, and inducing your body to raise your immune system creates a prophylactic effect that your whole body reacts to and gives you overall health benefits.”
Coon’s online research indicates the great chile health news continues in 2011.
She cited a study showing that capsaicin leads blood vessels to relax, potentially helping to lower blood pressure in genetically hypertenisve rats.
A study at Korea’s Daegu University showed that capsaicin-treated animals “developed less body fat and accumulated smaller fat droplets within fat cells” and gained 8 percent less weight than a control group of animals.
A Purdue University study suggests that chile peppers can curb appetite.
But years of research have not curbed the CPI team’s appetite for the hot stuff.
For Bosland, a therapeutic dose of chile is “one or two jalapeños a day. And I have salsa every day and hot sauce on most things.”
Coon said she wavered a bit during August tests of green chile gelato, but enchiladas are still her chile delivery system of choice.
“I was born and raised on a New Mexico farm, in Española, and I’ve loved chile since I was 5 years old. I eat both red and green at least once a day and I’m always trying to find new and exotic ways of eating it. I know anytime I travel out of state, the first thing I want when I get home is green chile,” said Coon, who hold a master’s degree in horticulture and has been working with the Chile Pepper Institute and doing educational outreach full-time for the past 15 years.
She said she was particularly surprised by “a lot of the folklore that came out during our research about the healing powers of peppers, especially about the native Pueblo people using chile powder to keep their feet warm.”
Chiles have been our friends for thousands of years.
“The Aztecs used chile peppers to reduce toothache pain,” said Bosland.
Some people believe that chiles relieve depression.
“Endorphins do come into play and it seems to help some folks. Psychology is still a field where they are learning things about placebo effects, so it’s hard to say. But I can attest that most people are pretty happy when they are talking about chiles,” Bosland said.
The ubiquitous chile may be spicing up your life with good vibes and healing powers in ways you don’t realize. You could be starting your day with a hit of chile during your morning shower.
“One of the more exotic uses is in dandruff shampoo. It’s what gives your scalp that tingling effect,” Bosland reports. If you’d like to conduct your own research, you’re in the right place.
“Southern New Mexico is No. 1 in the United States and we’re No. 1 in the world when it comes to the numbers of different kinds of peppers we produce and research in the field,” Bosland said, who reminds us that our state was named the chile capital of the world in a 2006 state of New Mexico proclamation.
That’s our title and we’re sticking to it, though California beat us last year in grand totals of production weights and values, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
“New Mexico has the most acreage (devoted to chile) but because California only grows fresh (not dried), they produce more tonnage,” said Noreen Jaramillo with the New Mexico Department of Agriculture.
In recent years, New Mexico’s top two chile-producing counties have been Luna and Doña Ana counties, according to the NMDA: Luna produced 2,950 tons and Doña Ana harvested 2,800 tons.
Bosland and Coons are currently seeking a publisher for their newest book, “101 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Chile Peppers.”
To learn more about chile, pick up a copy of “The Complete Chile Pepper Book” by Dave DeWitt & Paul Bosland (Timber Press), “The Healing Power of Peppers” by Dave DeWitt, Melissa T. Stock, and Kellye Hunter (Random House) or get the institute’s poster, for $15, at NMSU’s nonprofit Chile Pepper Institute Center for Chile Education, Gerald Thomas Hall, room 265, corner of College and Knox streets, call (575) 646-3028 or visit online at www.chilepepperinstitute.org. The institute is open from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and also offers seeds, posters, books, videos, guides, research articles and other information.
To find regional sources for fresh and shipped processed chiles, search online with keywords “fresh chile peppers” or check out area markets.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450
Some health benefits of the hot stuff:
A teaspoon of red chile meets the recommended daily allowance for vitamin A.
One green chile pod has as much vitamin C as six oranges.
Chile peppers are rich in vitamins E and B complex and a good source of iron, potassium and dietary vitamins, as well as antioxidants.
Capsaicin creams made of chile can help in pain relief.
Anti-inflammatory effects benefit those with arthritis.
Used in patches for sore and aching muscles.
Chile decreases cholesterol absorption so more is expelled from the body.
Chile peppers increase the enzymes responsible for fat metabolism in the liver.
Chile burns calories by triggering a thermodynamic burn, which speeds up the metabolism.
Chiles help thin the blood, treat blood clots and increase blood circulation.
Chiles help treat hypothermia, frostbite and heartburn.
Chile preparations aid in many skin conditions, including psoriasis, itchiness and bruising.
Chile in teas and lozenges help treat sore throat.
Chile peppers may help prevent the growth of certain cancers.
Capsaicin leads blood vessels to relax, potentially helping to lower blood pressure.
— Source: Paul Bosland and Danise Coon of the Chile Pepper Institute at NMSU, “The Healing Power of Peppers” by Dave DeWitt, Melissa T. Stock, and Kellye Hunter
The Chile Pepper Institute
NMSU’s nonprofit Chile Pepper Institute Center for Chile Education, Gerald Thomas Hall, room 265, corner of College and Knox streets, 646-3028, www.chilepepperinstitute.org
Hours: 8 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
The institute offers information, seeds, posters, books, CDs, guides, research articles, chile plants, packaged chile food products, chile-themed clothing, flash drives and other merchandise.
NMSU/Doña Ana Cooperative Extension Office, 530 N. Church St., (575) 525-6649, donaanaextension.nmsu.edu Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
Free information includes pamphlets on making ristras, chile recipes, chile cultivation and preservation.
Filed Under: Health Benefits