Hot sauce is fairly ancient, explains food historian, Dave DeWitt,“…chromatographs of bowls, cups, and other utensils also show that chili peppers were incorporated into early chocolate drinks. Other than that, hot sauce preparation remained extremely simple.”
Thirty generations ago, my ancestors were either eliminated or enslaved. Those that survived worked torturously in the hot sun and had little resources to support them. They were regularly issued the ‘undesirable’ cuts of meat — such as the feet, head, ribs, cartilage and internal organs.But these people did not want merely to survive, they wanted to live; so, in order to hide the poor taste of these scraps and to overcome the monotony of their rations, my ancestors drew inspiration from what they could collectively remember of their West African culinary tradition.They began in secret to use chili peppers, forming their own powerful mixture — pepper sauce — to invigorate their plates. These creations were later remixed through exchanges with surviving Kalinago and the delivery of East Indians following the official end of slavery.
Today, hot pepper sauce is synonymous with Trinidad’s spirited cuisine. We enjoy it in our breakfast: saltfish and sada, smoked herring, plantains, baigan choka and dasheen bush. It’s great in snacks like pholourie, pineapple chow and tamarind balls. For lunch, we’ll go mad for a roti with curry mango. At a beach lime, it’s magic on bake and shark. Sunday’s, we need that heat to turn up pelau and callaloo, stew fish and provisions. And late nights after the fete, we’ll queue up behind dozens of other revelers for doubles with slight pepper.
Aside from the supreme taste of our hot pepper sauce, there are also many health benefits to enjoy. Powerful antioxidants, mood-enhancement, anti-aging, anti-inflammation and cancerprevention. Hot pepper sauce curbs the appetite, boosts weight loss and aids digestion. Vitamin A and C, flavonoids, all play a part in this superfood cocktail.
Spicy situations tend to attract so-called ‘sensation seekers’, those considered more open to risks and the thrill of new experiences. This desire is within most of us, only dormant in some. Luckily, our hot pepper sauce is a bridge to a healthy, ecstatic state. Eating spicy food feels good. Capsaicin, the active ingredient in our sauce, binds to pain receptors in the mouth and nose, creating a burning feeling that gets passed along to the brain. The brain reacts by releasing endorphins – natural opioids that produce a feeling of well-being – to soothe the heat while simultaneously allowing serotonin to ease depression and stress.
There have also been studies linking sexual health with regular doses of the hotness. Our elders have this saying: “Peppa is good for d’back.” Just make sure to wash your hands first!
One drop will make even the most boring diet food more palatable, making you more likely to follow your weight loss plan. Capsaicin increases metabolism, helping you eat less and feel satisfied by suppressing the appetite and increasing the number of calories your body burns through the thermogenic effect.
A British study showed that capsaicin, when added to breakfast foods or lunch caused people to eat less during and after meals. There is a high concentration of Vitamin C in our pepper sauce. Vitamin C is connected to fast metabolism, the development of connective tissue, biosynthesis of neurotransmitters, immune function, healing wounds and iron absorption. It’s also an antioxidant, destroying free radicals before they enter and damage healthy skin, teeth and bones.
Spicy food has been shown to relieve arthritis by inhibiting substance P, a neuropeptide that causes inflammation. And for athletes, a natural stress and inflammation reducer to help alleviate minor pain from sprains and strains. Ask Usain Bolt!
Contrary to the belief –hot going in, hot coming out – our pepper sauce stimulates stomach secretions, increasing blood flow to the stomach and supplementing its mucous lining. A great help in the fight to heal and prevent ulcers.
“In traditional medicine, hot spices have been used as digestive stimulants and to cure digestive ailments. A 2010 study published in the journal “Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism” looked at the effect of capsaicin on the activities of antioxidant enzymes in the stomach and intestines. Researchers found that it improved the functioning of all these antioxidant enzymes, showing capsaicin can protect the stomach and intestines while favoring digestion.”
Heart and Circulation
Studies show that cultures who eat the most spicy food have much lower incidence of heart attack and stroke. Potential reasons: capsaicin fights inflammation, a risk factor for heart issues, and stimulates nerves in a way favouring increased blood circulation.
Vitamins A and C strengthen heart muscle walls, and the heat of pepper sauce increases blood flow throughout your body. All of this equals a stronger cardiovascular system and owed blood pressure. Our hot pepper sauce lowers triglycerides, the chemical form fat takes in the body, which are linked to coronary artery disease and can help prevent a gene that causes contracting arteries from taking action.
According to Dr. David Popovich, Senior Lecturer in Human Nutrition at Massey University in New Zealand, Capsaicin triggers something called apoptosis: a kind of cell suicide that encourages the turnover of cells to be recycled into new cells. “Pungent peppers are a cocktail of bioactive compounds and capsaicin depends on them for its health benefits. Blending, cutting and cooking improve the release of these compounds from pepper tissue, increasing the amount available for absorption.” says Popovich.
Researchers demonstrated capsaicin hinders the growth of prostate tumors and may also help prevent lung cancer in those who smoke or live in polluted areas. “…it has the same effects on the body as certain cancer drugs do.” says Gregory A. Plotnikoff, M.D., senior consultant for health care innovation at Allina Hospitals and Clinics in Minnesota.
Hot pepper sauce will help reduce stuffiness associated with the common cold and allergies. Pepper sauce in conjunction with green tea and chocolate work as super, natural prevention and home remedy.