We all know that capsaicin is the spicy-making chemical found in hot chili peppers — so we won’t go into too much detail on that. But did you know that it’s also found in non-spicy peppers and a few other types of plants? Read on to learn what foods, in addition to chili peppers, have capsaicin — and which spicy foods don’t.
Do bell peppers have capsaicin?
First off, let’s talk about bell peppers. Bell peppers taste sweet and fruity and don’t even have a whisper of spiciness. Surprisingly, bell peppers are the only members of the genus Capsicum that do not produce capsaicin — that means that they have a Scoville rating (SHU) of 0. So, you can always feel confident in using bell peppers, even when you are cooking for young kids or people who are highly sensitive to spice.
There are other peppers so mild that when you bite into them, your tongue might not detect any spice, like anaheim, cubanelle, and poblanos. Unlike bell peppers, these peppers do have capsaicin, but usually very little. Peppers under 1,000 SHU will be almost undetectably spicy for most people.
Does ginger have capsaicin?
Ginger is a spicy root commonly used in food, beverage, and medicine, but it does not contain capsaicin. Instead, it contains gingerol, which has properties similar to capsaicin.
Does cinnamon have capsaicin?
Cinnamon is another common spicy food that is not primarily made spicy by capsaicin. While it does contain trace amounts of capsaicin, the quantity is so little that it does not rank on the Scoville scale and has an SHU ranking of 0.
What other plants and foods have capsaicin?
While peppers are the plants most abundant in capsaicin, and cinnamon has just a hint, there are other plants that also have a little bit of capsaicin. Herbs including oregano and cilantro also have a small amount of capsaicin, but little enough that they do not taste spicy. These herbs have little enough capsaicin that they do not register on the Scoville scale, with an SHU of 0.
Can you be allergic to capsaicin?
Capsaicin is a strong irritant and can cause burning of the eyes and skin, and digestive discomfort. If you experience those symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are allergic to capsaicin, it may just mean that you are sensitive to it or were exposed to high levels of capsaicin. Even if you are highly sensitive to capsaicin, it’s unlikely that you would have a negative reaction to foods like cinnamon or cilantro, because the quantity of capsaicin is so low.
If you find that you cannot eat chili peppers, tomatoes, or eggplants, you may be allergic to all nightshades rather than capsaicin specifically.