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Why Chilli Peppers are Spicy

The Chemistry of a Chilli


© Compound Interest

Why Chilli Peppers are Spicy: The Chemistry of a Chilli

The idea for this graphic came to me whilst saving the chilli peppers from a forlorn looking, aphid-infested chilli plant that’s probably on its metaphorical last legs. I thought it would be quite interesting to look at the origin of the heat in chilli peppers, and how this can be quantified.

A family of compounds called capsaicinoids are responsible for the heat of chillies; within this family, several different compounds are found in the various varieties of chillies, but the dominant compound is capsaicin, a vanilloid, shown in the graphic.

  • Capsaicin
  • capsaicinoids
  • pepper
  • pain
  • chili peppers
  • vanilloids
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