The Health Benefits of Jalapeño Peppers


This is an excerpt from one of many presentations by Dr. Benigno Villalón, Professor Emeritus Texas A&M University, a.k.a. “Dr. Pepper.”

I happen to have special access to everything spicy and good for you because he is my dad, and my inspiration.

Although retired from his research at Texas A&M, Dr. Villalón continues to be asked to make presentations about the History of Hot Stuff all over the world.   He will be talking about “the Science of Hot Sause” on Tuesday, November 16 at the University of Alabama (1:3o-pm Rodgers Library Lobby) as part of the International Education Week.

The popularity of the Jalapeño

Jalapeños are one of the most popular and important peppers in the United States of America.  The impetus for their Texan popularity and mythology begins with a combination of their unique flavor compounds, taste, pungency variability, nutraceutical compounds, and usage.  These chile types are one of the most important ingredients in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine.  Most food trends come and go but the Southwestern; Mexican, and Tex-Mex cuisine has had a great deal of acceptance and appreciation in the U.S.A. for the past 100 years.   Jalapeños are most commonly used in restaurants as commercial salsas, and picante sauces, and in stadiums and ballpark snacks as nachos.

We love peppers in Texas

  • In 1995 the 74th Legislature of the State of Texas designated the jalapeño pepper as the official State Pepper of Texas.
  • In 1977 the Texas State Legislature designated “Chili Con Carne” as the State Dish.
  • In 1997 the Texas State Legislature designated Chiltecpin as the State Native Pepper.
  • In 2003 the Texas State Legislature designated Tortilla Chips & Salsa as the State Snack.

The jalapeño is truly the Tex-Mex pepper of Texas.

Nutritional benefits of Chili and all Peppers

Chilli (Nahuatl), chili, chile, and/or pepper, (Capsicum spp. L.) is native to tropical America (Mexico, Central and South America) and has been under cultivation for over 8,000 years.  It is the number one food spice ingredient in the world because it is a nutritious and healthy food product.

Capsicum spice products are used in food preparation all over the world.  They occupy a significant place in the world’s diet and health contributing to sensory dimensions in foods.  Color, flavor, aroma, oleoresin and capsaicin extracts from chiles are the main ingredients used in food preparations.  All peppers including jalapeños are an excellent source of Vitamin C (higher than tomatoes and citrus) and Vitamin A (similar to carrots).

Jalapeño fruits contain high concentrations of antioxidant compounds such as ascorbic acid, beta-carotene and flavonoid such as quercitin and luteolin.  These compounds reduce the risk of degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease and stroke.  The red keto carotenoid, aromatic volatile, and pungent capsaicinoids impart beneficial effects on nutrition and the gastro intestinal tracts.

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