native chili peppers
Prized by pre-Hispanic cultures for their high nutritional value, exquisite flavor and exotic aroma, native chili peppers trace their roots back to common ancestors in South America. Peru is the wealthiest country of all in terms of this vegetable, growing more varieties than any other nation. This biological richness is underscored by the ample archaeological evidence pointing to the widespread use of chili peppers in ancient Peru.
Human health benefits
Super native chili peppers are a low-calorie food, made up of 90% water. They also have large doses of capsaicin, the substance found in the capsicum family (a genus of flowering plants). This compound makes peppers hot and is also a painkiller and blood thinner, ideal for people at risk for cardiovascular diseases.
Additionally, a diet that includes peppers helps alleviate arthritis pains and stimulates the nervous system because peppers cause the body to release endorphins (compounds linked to satisfaction and well-being). The vegetable also regulates blood sugar levels, making it an effective partner in treating diabetes, and is a bactericide, eliminating stomach bacteria and decreasing the chance of stomach illnesses.
This spice, with the scientific name Capsicum, is traded more than any other in the world, and Peru tops the list of countries with the highest pepper diversity thanks to the interaction between pre-Columbian civilizations.
Although the crop is grown throughout Peru, the northern coast and the Amazon have the highest level of diversity of this superfood. On the coast, the cash crops are yellow chili peppers (Capsicum baccatum) and Peruvian red peppers, while in the highland jungle, the rocoto chili pepper (Capsicum pubescens) predominates.
Any given type of pepper has a smorgasbord of nutrients. For example, every 100 grams of yellow chili pepper contains 88.9 grams of water; 39 calories; 8.8 grams of carbohydrates; 0.9 grams of protein; 0.7 grams of fat; 2.4 grams of fiber; 31 mg. of calcium; 0.9 mg. of iron; 445 ug. of retinol and 60 mg. of vitamin C.
Recent research also shows that regularly eating chili peppers leads to longer life, alleviates pain and suppresses appetite. Peruvian researchers have also pointed to the rocoto pepper's potential to prevent ulcers and stomach cancer.