Have you ever wondered why peppers are spicy? 
This is due to a substance called capsaicin, which is one of the most potent spicy molecules found in chili peppers, but it can also be found in small amounts in other species.
In peppers, this substance is primarily found in the placenta, which is the white layer inside, and it is also present in the seeds. However, the placenta has a higher concentration of capsaicin.  

When we consume food that contains capsaicin, our body reacts as it is released and activates receptors (TRPV1) in the skin, which sends warning signals to the nervous system, making us think that we are overheating. In response, our body initiates all the cooling mechanisms to eliminate this perceived threat.

Why do peppers produce capsaicin and what advantage does it offer them? 
There are several theories about why peppers evolved to produce capsaicin.

One of the reasons, from an evolutionary perspective, is that this substance protects them from mammals, in such a way that the spiciness discourages them from being eaten. The main mammal threat to peppers is rodents. When rodents eat peppers, they grind the seeds with their teeth, destroying them and preventing germination. By producing capsaicin, chili peppers keep rodents away and discourage them from eating the peppers, as they react to this substance by feeling the burning sensation. 
Another animal that also feeds on these peppers is birds. However, birds do not react in the same way, and capsaicin does not affect them. But for these plants, birds are not a problem, as they can disperse the seeds to other locations.  

So, for peppers, this was the ideal way to protect themselves and keep away the wrong creatures. 

We, humans, continue to eat spicy food despite perceiving the sensation of heat, and this is not only due to the flavor we can enjoy when eating these peppers but also the sensation that spiciness offers. When we eat spicy food, our body releases endorphins (hormones that cause pleasure) or adrenaline. For many people, experiencing this chemical release is associated with happiness or some positive emotion when consuming these foods. 

Benefits that we can obtain from capsaicin 
In addition to experiencing heat or certain emotions when eating spicy food, capsaicin also has several health benefits, including the following:

  • It has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties 
  • It improves metabolism 
  • It helps control diabetes. Studies have shown that capsaicin can help with insulin levels and restore glucose levels. 
  • It manages psoriasis; creams containing capsaicin help with the treatment of inflammation, itching, and pain caused by psoriasis.
  • It improves heart health

So, we can see that spicy peppers not only give us the sensation of heat when we eat them, but they are also a compound that offers many benefits for us. Additionally, they provide us with a lot of flavor to enjoy our meals.

So, don't forget to visit our section on recipes to add a unique flavor to your dishes and reap those mentioned benefits.  

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