Hot peppers have been used for cooking and for medical purposes for years, and serrano pepper is one of them.
Not only does it share the characteristics of the desired spiciness in many popular cayenne pepper-like dishes, but serrano pepper can actually generate relief for sore muscles, arthritic patients, those with heart problems, strengthen the immune system, and, oddly enough, helps you cool off on a hot day. So what allows these benefits of serrano pepper to take place? Let’s take a look.
What is a serrano pepper?
Like most peppers, serrano is the fruit of a plant species called Capsicum annuum and closely related to Capsicum frutescens, from which the peppers for the Tabasco sauce come, and C. chinense, from which overheated habanero comes, known also as a Scottish bonnet chili. Like tobacco, tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant, peppers are part of the nightshade vegetable family.
Serrano pepper looks a lot like jalapeno, but if you think jalapeno is hot, just wait until you get the kick from the serrano. This type of pepper ranks between 5,000 and 25,000 on the Scoville heat index, also known as the chili scale, which is a measure used to classify the pungent heat of peppers. The staircase is named after the man who created it, Wilbur Scoville.
To put things in perspective, how hot is serrano compared to other peppers? The level of heat is directly influenced by the genetic ancestors of the plant and its environmental surroundings. And while serrano pepper isn’t the hottest chili out there, the Scala Scoville puts it in the middle of the list as you can see here:
- Pepper 0
- Anaheim 500–1,000
- Pasilla 1,000–1500
- Jalapeño 2,500–5,000
- Serrano 5,000–15,000
- Yellow wax 5,000–15,000
- Cayenne 30,000–50,000
- Chile Pequin 30,000–50,000
- Chipotle (dried) 50,000–100,000
- Habanero 100,000–300,000
Serrano pepper is green in color, ripening to red, brown, orange, or yellow. It’s about two inches long, but don’t let the little ones fool you. The smaller the serrano, the warmer. Another thing to note is that dried peppers can be much hotter than fresh ones.
1. Booster of the immune system
Orange has long had a reputation for providing most of the vitamin C, but serrano pepper may have that orange as a vitamin C food. Getting enough vitamin C is important for the immune system and tissue repair caused. from inflammation.
According to research from 2015, serrano pepper is among the types of peppers that help strengthen the immune system due to the high levels of antioxidants. In particular, carotene is beneficial against all types of disease, including chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
2. Improve heart health
The heat-stimulating capsaicin found in chilies such as serrano has been found to help reduce cholesterol levels because it is able to reduce the buildup of cholesterol in the body by helping the body detoxify through excretion in the stool. Peppers can also prevent arteries from contracting, which can restrict blood flow to the heart.
Dr. Zhen-Yu Chen, Ph.D., professor of food and nutritional sciences at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, presented research that chilies may be beneficial to the heart and help reduce the risk marker for coronary heart disease, and while he does not recommend eating too many peppers, he concludes that as a supplement for those who love spices, peppers are beneficial for heart health by improving blood vessels throughout the body.
3. Relief for arthritis and sore muscles
Capsaicin is what produces heat in chilies. When applied topically as a cream, gel or patch, capsaicin provides relief by depleting the substance P, which is a neurotransmitter that sends pain-related messages to the brain.
Capsaicin can reduce pain from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. A 2010 German study showed that joint pain decreased by about 50% in patients who used capsaicin cream, which can be obtained from serrano peppers. Initially, it may cause a slight sting or stinging when substance P is released and eventually wears out, but with regular use, substance P does not build up again and the burning sensation should not occur.
4. It can relieve shingles
Shingles can cause a lot of discomforts, and nearly one in three people get shingles at some point in their life. The United States Food and Drug Administration has approved capsaicin to relieve herpes zoster (Herpes zoster) pain. (4)
The elimination of substance P, which I noted above, is the key to the much-needed form of shingles relief because it helps reduce the effects associated with the pain and symptoms of shingles. Like cayenne pepper, the capsaicin compound found in serrano pepper helps release and eliminate substance P.
UC Davis reports that low-concentration topical capsaicin has been used for decades as a treatment. It is possible for this treatment to reduce pain for several months.
5. It cools you down
If you wonder what makes chili pepper hot, it’s the capsaicin it contains. Capsaicin is an active compound that actually helps our bodies adapt to hot climates by lowering body temperature. Have you seen someone sweat profusely on their face after eating a pepper? That actually has a name. It is called gustatory sweating of the face.
The capsaicin compound in pepper is doing its job by inducing a natural cooling method. It does this by sending messages to the brain that intense heat is occurring and the body needs protection.
So how can it help you adapt to warm outside temperatures? When you sweat, you are cooling the body. Because peppers induce sweat, they have been commonly used for years in places like Central and South America, India, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean to cool off faster on a hot day.
One cup (105 grams) of chopped raw serrano pepper contains about:
- 34 calories
- 7.9 grams of carbohydrates
- 1.8 grams of protein
- 0.5 grams of fat
- 3.9 grams of fiber
- 47.1 milligrams of vitamin C (79% DV)
- 0.5 milligrams of vitamin B6 (27 percent DV)
- 984 IU of vitamin A (20 percent of DV)
- 12.4 micrograms of vitamin K (15 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligrams of manganese (10 percent DV)
- 320 milligrams of potassium (9 percent DV)
- 1.6 milligrams of niacin (8 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligrams of copper (7 percent DV)
- Folate 24.2 micrograms (6 percent DV)
- 23.1 milligrams of magnesium (6 percent DV)
- Riboflavin 0.1 milligrams (5 percent DV)
- 0.9-milligram iron (5 percent DV)
- 0.7 milligrams of vitamin E (4 percent of DV)
- 0.1 milligrams of thiamine (4 percent DV)
- 42 milligrams of phosphorus (4 percent DV)