Saturday, July 17, 2021

Capsaicinoids in chilies

Most of the varieties of pepper referred to as chili peppers belong to Capsicum annuum L; some varieties with “chili” in their name are actually C. frutescens L.

Capsaicinoids are the compounds responsible for the pungency of pepper fruits and their products. The two most abundant capsaicinoids in peppers are capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-trans-6-nonenamide) and dihydrocapsaicin, both constituting about 90% of the total capsaicinoids in most of the pungent varieties.

The basic sensation produced by chili peppers is extreme pungency or ‘heat’. The substance that produces all of the heat sensation is known as capsaicin (N vanillyl-8-methyl-6- (E)-noneamide). Capsaicin is a flavorless, odorless and colorless compound found in varying amounts in peppers.

Capsaicin is made by specialized gland cells found in the cross walls or ribs of the pepper and is composed of several different alkaloids which vary in amounts depending on the species.

Capsaicin, a homovanillic acid derivative (8-methyl-N-vanillyl6-nonenamide), is an active component of the red pepper. The level of the capsaicin in a seasoned pepper is around 0.025%, and in the hot pepper around 0.25%.

Capsaicin represents 69% in the group of capsacinoids; dihydrocapsacinoids with 22%; nordihydrocapsacinoids with 7%; and homocapsaicin and homohydrocapsaicin represents only 1% in the group of capsaicinoids.

The capsaicinoids have evolved in chili peppers as a defense mechanism against mammalian predators; nevertheless, this trait is an important fruit quality attribute and one of the most important reasons chili peppers are consumed.

The sensations of heat and pain in the mouth are the result of the stimulation of local heat receptors in the skin and mucous membranes by capsaicin. The capsaicin (vanilloid) receptor VR1 is a sensory neuron-specific ion channel that serves as a polymodal detector of pain-producing chemical and physical stimuli.

The number of Scoville heat units (SHU) indicates the amount of capsaicin present in a particular pepper. The scale was developed in 1912 by American chemist Wilbur Scoville, to rate the pungency or heat of peppers.
Capsaicinoids in chilies

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