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|Sam's Salsa and Sam's Napoli both have hot peppers and
here's the reason why we tastefully add these hot peppers to our
The term "peppers" encompasses a diverse group of plants, ranging from the popular sweet green or red bell pepper to the fiery hot habañero or the even more lethal Scotch bonnet. When Columbus tasted the small, hot red "berries" he found on his Caribbean voyages, he believed he had reached India—where Europeans obtained black pepper—and called them red pepper. In truth, the native peoples of the Americas had been growing and enjoying sweet and chili peppers for an estimated 7,000 years. Soon after Columbus's ships brought them back to Spain, traders spread them around the world, transforming cuisines—and people's preventive health prospects—from Morocco to Hungary, and India to China.
Peppers—whether sweet bell or hot chili—are members of the plant genus "capsicum" (cap-sih-kum), a term that comes from the Greek word kapto, which means "to bite."
All peppers contain compounds called capsaicinoids. This is especially true of chili peppers, which derive their spicy heat—as well as extraordinary anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-cancer, heart-healthy effects—from very high levels of capsaicinoids, the most common form of which is capsaicin.
In addition to capsaicin, chilies are high in antioxidant carotenes and flavonoids, and contain about twice the amount of vitamin C found in citrus fruits. Almost any dish, from homemade soups, stews and chili to stir fries, salads, and salsas, can benefit from small amounts of hot peppers.
|Capsaicin's Health Benefits
Headache help: Substance P is the key transmitter of pain to the brain. In fact, Substance P is the body's main mechanism for producing swelling and pain throughout the trigeminal nerve, which runs through the head, temple, and sinus cavity. When the nerve fibers come in contact with Substance P, they react by swelling—an effect that yields headaches and sinus symptoms. Clinical studies have shown that capsaicin, a compound in hot peppers, is extremely effective for relieving and preventing cluster headaches, migraine headaches, and sinus headaches.
Arthritis relief: People suffering from arthritis pain typically have elevated levels of Substance P in their blood and in the synovial fluid that bathes their joints. Research has shown that eating foods that contain capsaicin or applying a topical cream that contains capsaicin can suppress Substance P production.
Capsaiscin as spicy sinus soother: Capsaicin also possesses powerful antibacterial properties, and is very effective in fighting and preventing chronic sinus infections (sinusitis). This purely natural chemical will also clear out congested nasal passages like nothing else, and is helpful in treating sinus-related allergy symptoms. Small daily doses of capsaicin have even been shown to prevent chronic nasal congestion.
Capsaicin as anti-inflammatory: In recent years, researchers discovered that capsaicin is a potent anti-inflammatory, and have even pinpointed how it works to fight chronic, sub-clinical inflammation. The nuclei of human cells contain chemicals called nuclear transcription factors (NTFs), two of which—activator protein 1 (AP-1) and NF-kappa B—are especially important targets when it comes to prevention of cancer and premature aging of skin. Each of these NTFs can be "activated" by ultraviolet light and free radicals: a result that produces a pro-inflammatory chain reaction that promotes premature aging and a wide variety of degenerative diseases. As it turns out, nature offers several effective NTF-activation blockers, including the capsaicin in chilies, and the yellow pigment curcumin in turmeric.
Gastric relief: A recent study on gastric disorders at Duke University showed capsaicin may actually lead to a cure for certain intestinal diseases. The Duke team found that a specific nerve cell receptor appears to be necessary to initiate the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a general term given to a variety of chronic disorders in which the intestine becomes inflamed—resulting in recurring abdominal cramps, pain and diarrhea. The cause of IBD is unknown, and it is believed that up to 2 million Americans suffer from this disorder.
Capsaicin versus cancer: Several recent studies have shown that capsaicin may actually prevent the growth of certain types of cancer. In particular, there have been several clinical studies conducted in Japan and China that showed natural capsaicin directly inhibits the growth of leukemic cells. Although these studies used pure capsaicin directly injected into isolated diseased cells in a laboratory setting, scientists have also concluded that daily consumption of hot peppers (thus capsaicin) may actually prevent certain types of cancer. Throughout South America, intestinal, stomach, and colon cancer rates are very low compared to the United States. It is widely regarded by medical experts that this low cancer rate may be tied to the large amounts of capsaicin in their diets, since nearly every main dish in their normal diet contains some form of capsaicin-based food, particularly hot cayenne and jalapeño peppers. Of course we must also take into consideration the fact these cultures also consume fiber-rich beans on a daily basis.
Capsaicin as fat burner: Capsaicin is an active ingredient in many of the most popular "fat burning" supplements on the market. A thermogenic agent, capsaicin helps to increase overall metabolic activity, thus helping the body burn calories and fat. Since the FDA banned the herb ephedra, supplement manufacturers have been searching for new thermogenic ingredients and many have added chilies to the mix. While capsaicin replaces some of ephedra's metabolic effects, it doesn't have that herb's negative, stimulant effects on heart rate. In fact, capsaicin is an actively "heart healthy" supplement.
Public release date: 15-Mar-2006
Pepper component hot enough to trigger suicide in prostate cancer cellsCapsaicin, the stuff that turns up the heat in jalapeños, not only causes the tongue to burn, it also drives prostate cancer cells to kill themselves, according to studies published in the March 15 issue of Cancer Research.
According to a team of researchers from the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in collaboration with colleagues from UCLA, the pepper component caused human prostate cancer cells to undergo programmed cell death or apoptosis.
Capsaicin induced approximately 80 percent of prostate cancer cells growing in mice to follow the molecular pathways leading to apoptosis. Prostate cancer tumors treated with capsaicin were about one-fifth the size of tumors in non-treated mice.
"Capsaicin had a profound anti-proliferative effect on human prostate cancer cells in culture," said Sören Lehmann, M.D., Ph.D., visiting scientist at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the UCLA School of Medicine. "It also dramatically slowed the development of prostate tumors formed by those human cell lines grown in mouse models."
Lehmann estimated that the dose of pepper extract fed orally to the mice was equivalent to giving 400 milligrams of capsaicin three times a week to a 200 pound man, roughly equivalent to between three and eight fresh habañera peppers – depending on the pepper's capsaicin content. Habañeras are the highest rated pepper for capsaicin content according to the Scoville heat index. Habañero peppers, which are native to the Yucatan, typically contain up to 300,000 Scoville units. The more popular Jalapeño variety from Oaxaca, Mexico, and the southwest United States, contains 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units.
As described in their study, the scientists observed that capsaicin inhibited the activity of NF-kappa Beta, a molecular mechanism that participates in the pathways leading to apoptosis in many cell types.
Apoptosis is a normal cellular event in many tissues that maintains a balance between newer replacement cells and aged or worn cells. In contrast, cancer cells seek to be immortal and often dodge apoptosis by mutating or deregulating the genes that participate in programmed cell death.
"When we noticed that capsaicin affected NF-kappa Beta, that was an indication that we might expect some of the apoptotic proteins to be affected," said the study's senior author, Phillip Koeffler, M.D., director of Hematology and Oncology, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and professor at UCLA.
The pepper extract also curbed the growth of prostate cancer cells through regulation of androgen receptors, the steroid activated proteins that control expression of specific growth relating genes.
In prostate cancer cells whose growth is dependent on testosterone, the predominant male sex steroid, capsaicin reduced cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner. Increased concentrations of capsaicin caused more prostate cancer cells to freeze in a non-proliferative state, called G0/G1.
Prostate cancer cells that are androgen independent reacted to capsaicin in a similar manner. Capsaicin reduced the amount of androgen receptor that the tumor cells produced, but did not interfere with normal movement of androgen receptor into the nucleus of the cancer cells where the steroid receptor acts to regulate androgen target genes such as prostate specific antigen (PSA). Capsaicin also interfered with the action of androgen receptors even in cells that were modified to produce excess numbers of androgen receptors.
The hot pepper component also reduced cancer cell production of PSA, a protein that often is produced in high quantities by prostate tumors and can signal the presence of prostate cancer in men. PSA content in the blood of men is used as a diagnostic prostate cancer screening measure. PSA is regulated by androgens, and capsaicin limited androgen-induced increases of PSA in the cancer cell lines.
More men in the United States develop prostate cancer than any other type of malignancy. Every year, more than 232,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in the U.S., and more than 680,000 develop the disease worldwide. Approximately 30,000 men die from prostate cancer in the U.S. each year, which is about 13 percent of all new cases. Worldwide, there are 221,000 deaths – approximately 31 per cent – among men with prostate cancer.
Lehman conducted the studies in Koeffler's laboratory in collaboration with UCLA cancer researchers Akio Mori, James O'Kelly, Takishi Kumagai, Julian Desmond, Milena Pervan, and William McBride. Mosahiro Kizaki, a former post-doctoral fellow in Koeffler's laboratory who initiated the capsaicin studies, is currently at the Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.
The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research.
Our members include more than 24,000 basic, translational, and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 60 other countries.
AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs, and funding meritorious research projects.
The AACR Annual Meeting attracts some 16,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments. Special Conferences throughout the year present novel information across a wide variety of cancer research and patient care topics.
AACR publishes five major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, as well as CR, a magazine about people and progress in cancer.
Contact: Russell Vanderboom, Ph.D.
American Association for Cancer Research