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Archive for October 8, 2007

NEWS: Hot Stuff Is Healthy Stuff

Jalapeño Chiles   “Chile heads”—people who can’t get enough hot habañeros in their daily diets—are on a healthier road than the rest of us, according to new medical research. Capsaicin, the heat component in chiles, is an antioxidant and a proven anti-inflammatory just like Aleve and Tylenol. It also kills cancer cells, prevents sinus infections, provides gastric relief like Tums and even oxidizes fat like Ephedra.* While some people may feel pain when eating hot chiles, those who enjoy it will feel less pain, breath easier and burn more calories. Unlike OTC pharmaceuticals, capsaicin has no side effects. It is a myth
that hot chiles cause stomach irritation and ulcers (although they may aggravate existing conditions). The spicier the chile, the stronger its health effects. (See our Chile Glossary for the Scoville Scale of comparative chile heats and a listing almost 40 different chiles.) According to Medill Reports, if you don’t like spicy food, keep trying. The report states that it can take up to 14 exposures to get used to a new food. Try using ground cayenne red pepper, by sprinkling it on popcorn, mixing it with lowfat frozen chocolate yogurt (or regular chocolate yogurt) and adding it to spaghetti sauce. More than 200 placebo-controlled studies, such as the recent study at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on capsaicin’s ability to halt prostate cell replication, are underway. By the way, chile “peppers,” members of the Capsicum family, originated in Mesoamerica and are not botanically related to true pepper, Piper nigrum, the black peppercorn, which originated in India. Chiles were misnamed by none other than Christopher Columbus who, when tasting chiles for the first time in the New World, equated their heat to that of peppercorns and assumed they were related. *Don’t get too excited. Preliminary research suggests that adding a teaspoon of cayenne pepper to each meal can cause the body to burn an extra 15 calories.

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PRODUCT WATCH: The “Original” Energy Bar

When Native Americans and European immigrants hit the trail and needed energy, they carried the original energy bar, pemmican—a mixture of meat, fat and dried fruit.  

Tanka Bar

Now, The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Company has gone back to its ancestral roots for a healthy, natural alternative to the energy bars now on the market: the Tanka Bar, made with South Dakota bison and Wisconsin cranberries. (If you remember “Dances With Wolves,” tanka means bison in the Lakota language.) The bar is a spinoff of a centuries-old Lakota food called wasna that sustained Great Plains Indians during long trips. Based on traditional wasna and pemmican, it combines high-protein, prairie-fed buffalo and tart-sweet cranberries that is slow-smoked to a jerky-like texture. If you’re a nomad on the go, try it next time you hit the trail. At TankaBar.com.

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