10 Things You Didn't Know About Pepper

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10 Things You Didn't Know About Pepper

Check out this slideshow to learn the 10 most interesting things you don't know about pepper.

Spice: Why Does Pepper Make You Sneeze?

Sneezing is a reflex that is triggered when nerve endings inside the mucous membrane of the nose are stimulated. White, black or green pepper contains an alkaloid called piperine. Piperine irritates the nerve endings in the mucous membranes causing you to sneeze (to rid your body of the product).

Image Credit: Flickr

Spice: How Long Has Pepper Been Around?

While it's possible that black pepper was known in China around second century BCE, it made its debut in the third century AD. Black pepper was revealed in a Chinese text and referred to as reahujiao or "foreign pepper."

Image Credit: Flickr

Spice: Health Benefits

Peppers are rich in vitamins C and A. They are also know for their flavonoid polyphenolic anti-oxidants, compounds which help the body remove harmful free radicals and help protect from cancers and diseases.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Spice: Peppercorns vs Previously Ground Pepper

Should you buy ground pepper or whole peppercorns to grind? The answer is whole peppercorns! In order to get the most flavor out of your pepper, grind at the time it is needed for your meal.

Image Credit: Corbis

Spice: Peppercorns as Currency

Did you know that during the Middle ages peppercorns were worth more than gold in weight? Individual peppercorns were widely accepted as a form of legal currency. Furthermore, in the Dutch language, pepedurr, which means "pepper expensive," is an expression for something very expensive.

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Spice: Where Does Pepper Come From?

The largest producer and exporter of pepper in the world is Vietnam.

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Spice: How Many Varieties of Pepper?

There are thousands of different varieties of pepper and 30 known species!

Image Credit: Getty Images

Vegetable: Why Are Peppers Hot?

Most think the seeds are the hottest part of a hot pepper. However, it's actually the placental material surrounding the seeds, full of a compound known as capsaicin.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Vegetable: Can Peppers Make You "Feel Good?"

Hot peppers can potentially produce a feeling of well-being or mild euphoria when consumed. Extremely hot peppers can cause the brain to release endorphins, creating a "runner's high" type of effect.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Vegetable: Bell and Chili Peppers

Did you know they are not in fact related to pepper at all? Bell peppers were dubbed as peppers when founded by Columbus upon discovering the New World. At the time of discovery, pepper was a very expensive and highly valued spice.

Image Credit: Jupiter images

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We bet it's safe to say you haven't ever really thought too much about pepper. Be it pepper the vegetable or pepper the spice, we have peppers on the brain. We got to thinking about this King of Spices and crispy vegetable classic and started to wonder...why does ground pepper make you sneeze? Why are chili peppers SO hot?

After pondering awhile, we thought we'd seek out the answers. We found just what we were looking for.

To learn a few new fun facts about pepper, check out our slideshow above!

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