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Attributed Medicinal Properties
Aside from their eye-opening flavor, perhaps the most surprising feature of chile peppers is their vitamin C content: 91 milligrams in 1/4 cup of fresh chilies. Though we don't eat chili peppers in large quantities, the amount of vitamin C is still significant. Red chiles are full of beta-carotene. The nutritional aspect of hot peppers most interesting to researchers today, however, is capsaicin, the compound that gives chiles their "burn." Capsaicin seems to have a positive effect on blood cholesterol, and also works as an anticoagulant. And the "high" that some people experience when eating fiery chile-spiked foods is a perfectly safe one: Some scientists theorize that in response to the discomfort produced by the chiles' "burn," the brain releases endorphins, substances that, at high levels, can create a sensation of pleasure.