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Chili pepper or Chilli is the fruit of the plants from the genus Capsicum, members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. The origin of chillies is believed to be as old as 7000 B.C., when it was first cultivated in America. Chilli was brought to the rest of the world by Christopher Columbus who discovered America in 1493. When Christopher reached America he saw chillis and mistook it as the black pepper. That is how the chilli got the name chile pepper. He took chile pepper back to Spain where it became a very famous spice and an important ingredient for various foods.

 

There are more than 400 different varieties of chillies found all over the world. Chillis are hot and stimulating with very less aroma when eaten. Chilli contains capsaicin, an alkaloid substance which makes chilli hot to taste. Capsaicin when comes in contact with mucous membranes creates the burning sensation oe the “heat”. The record for the hottest chili pepper was assigned by the Guinness Book of Records to the “Naga Jolokia” which can be found in the hilly terrains Tezpur, a small town in Assam, a state in the northeastern region India. Chilli became extremely popular in India after it was first brought to India by Vasco-da-Gama. It found its way in ayurveda, the traditional Indian medical system. According to ayurveda, chilli has many medicinal properties such as stimulating good digestion and endorphins, a natural pain killer to relieve pains.

Today, it is unimaginable to think of Indian cuisine without the hot and spicy chilli. Indian chillies have been dominating international chilli market for a long time as India has now become the world’s largest producer and exporter of chilli, exporting to USA, Canada, UK, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Germany and many countries across the world. It contributes to nearly 25% of world’s total production of chilli. Majority of chilli grown in India is cultivated in states such as Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan.


     




All hot chili peppers contain phytochemicals known collectively as capsaicinoids.

   
Capsaicin was shown, in laboratory settings, to cause cancer cell death in rats.
   
Recent research in mice shows that chili (capsaicin in particular) may offer some hope of weight loss for people suffering from obesity
   
Researchers used capsaicin from chillies 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.
   
Chilli peppers are being probed as a treatment for alleviating chronic pain.
   
Spices, including chilli, are theorized to control the microbial contamination levels of food in countries with minimal or no refrigeration.
   
Several 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.
   
Chillies act as detoxifiers as they remove waste products from our body and increases supply nutrients to the tissues. It also acts as gastrointestinal detoxicants helping in digestion of food.

   
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