Jalapeño peppers are wonderful for adding a little heat to your food. They are also nutrition power houses, with particularly high concentrations of vitamin C, but also vitamins A, K and E. Capaisin is what gives chile peppers their heat.
Jalapeño health benefits
Jalapeños have a number of health promoting properties including antioxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic and anti-diabetic, immune-boosting, analgesic and LDL cholesterol lowering properties.
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How hot are jalapeños chiles
Chile peppers have a rating scale, called Scoville heat units, or SHU. Jalapenos have an SHU rating of 2,500 to 5,000, which is fairly moderate, but notable heat. Bell peppers have a zero SHU rating and habaneros chiles have a whopping 350,000 to 580,000 SHU's.
How to prepare jalapeños
Jalapeños heat is concentrated in the seeds and the membranes. So if you are looking to reduce the heat remove the seeds and membrane. If you are particularly sensitive, you may want to wear gloves while preparing. At any rate, you want to avoid touching your eyes when handling chile peppers. I get a respiratory reaction when I cut jalapeños and have to take care not to breath in too deeply when I cut open the peppers.
Antidote to hot chile
If a jalapeño or other chile is too much for you, the long-term antidote is to eat more of them. The more you eat, the more tolerance you develop. This is not just a matter of getting used to the heat, you actually develop a drug tolerance to the capaisin. What you don't want to do is drink water, as capaisin is water soluble and drinking water just spreads the capaisin around. Recommendations for immediate relief range from eating more chiles immediately which is supposed to create a numbing effect; to fat-rich dairy like milk, butter, icecream or yogurt; to salt; to rice or bread; to a shot of vodka or tequila. I recently gave this advice to my friend Linda who had unintentionally doused her taco in some very hot pepper sauce. One shot of tequila and she was back in action. I suppose it all comes down to what you have handy.