Study: Eating pickles, yogurt can reduce social anxiety

By Alixandra Caole Vila ( | Updated July 7, 2015 – 2:08pm

MANILA, Philippines –  A study published in Psychiatry Research claims social anxiety may be eased by eating fermented foods like pickles.

Social anxiety is defined by as the fear of interaction with other people that brings on self-consciousness and feelings of being negatively judged and evaluated which, as a result, leads to avoidance.

To find out whether fermented foods can reduce social anxiety, 700 students were given questionnaires, asking them about how much fermented food have they eaten for the past 30 days. Results showed that young adults who eat more fermented foods have fewer social anxiety symptoms. They also exercise more.

Normally, our mental state affects the way our whole body functions. Hence, anxiety has pounding heart, sweating, shaking, blushing, muscle tension, upset stomach and diarrhea as its effects. The study made it rather clear that the gut-brain connection is strong and significant.  According to the study, the probiotics or good bacteria in our digestive tracts can send a message to the brain and dictate the way we feel. Probiotics found in fermented food lead to more production of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a chemical messenger that functions like anti-anxiety medications.

The next time you feel the social jitters have some of these fermented food items to make sure you don’t pass out: Sauerkraut a.k.a. fermented cabbage, pickles, yogurt, miso, tempeh, fermented onions, atchara or  pickled jalapenos.

4th of July Parade Features Pickles

The 4th of July parade in Lexington, MI features pickles in addition to candy and other items that are more traditionally seen handed out at parades.  This has to be one of the few parades in the country where pickles are featured and it seems like a great idea.  In addition to the kids and other pickle lovers who enjoy receiving the pickles those who are lucky enough to get asked to throw pickles into the crowd also enjoy their duties.  No word yet as to if these pickles being handed out are individually wrapped or what form of packaging they may be in.  This seems like an idea worth getting on board with and perhaps Texas Tito’s will bring this unique 4th of July tradition to New Braunfels, Texas and distribute individually packaged dill pickles to the large crowd that gathers every fourth of July for the parade.

Chili pepper shortage dampens the heat of Indian cuisine

Chili pepper shortage dampens the heat of Indian cuisine





Thursday, June 11, 2015, 2:00 AM


The spice isn’t right!

A federal ban on certain green chili peppers has sent shockwaves through the Indian restaurant world — with chefs from Curry Hill to Jackson Heights scrambling to find fiery alternatives and customers crying spiceless tears over their weak chicken tikka masala and vindaloo.

“It wasn’t anywhere close to spicy,” bemoaned Anish Samuel, 34, as he left Dhaba restaurant on Lexington Ave. the other day after eating a dispiriting plate of lamb biryani.

Samuel’s hot mess is the direct result of a March ban on produce imports from the Dominican Republic after the island nation was infiltrated by Mediterranean fruit flies — a ravenous pest that can destroy billions of dollars in agriculture.

The last major infestation in the U.S. was in 1989 — and federal officials have long memories. They also, apparently, have little regard for the sanctity of Indian cuisine, which depends of several varieties of the Capsicum annuum pepper, all known by one name in Indian food circles: “the green chili pepper.”

The import ban created a shortage that sent the cost of this hot commodity skyrocketing — from a little more than $1 to $15 per pound in some places. Many cooks are switching to substitutes like jalapenos, which is much less spicy, or habaneros, which aren’t even in the same pepper family.

Customers can’t be fooled.

“A lot of people are complaining the food is mild,” says Michelin-starred chef Hemant Mathur, who owns several Indian eateries in Curry Hill and white-tablecloth restaurants like Tulsi and serves as executive chef at Devi.

“The spice isn’t the same,” he insists. “Jalapeno is much sweeter than the green chili pepper.”

The spice in any pepper comes from the compound capsaicin, which clings to pain receptors on the tongue to produce a burning sensation. The banned chili has about 20,000 to 50,000 units of spice on the famed Scoville scale — named after pharmacist Wilbur Scoville, who created it in 1912.

Jalapenos, by comparison, have 5,000-15,000 Scoville units.

“Peppers (in Indian food) have a very quick and intense heat that goes away quickly — the jalapeno is exactly opposite. The heat builds and lingers forever,” says Danise Coon, a researcher for the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University.

“The jalapeno has a more grassy, fresh flavor profile while the small green chili pepper is more earthy, smoky and pungent,” she adds.

Mathur used to get 20 pounds of the green chilies for $45. Now he pays $150 for the same 20-pound case.

Indian grocery store The Spice Corner in Curry Hill went from paying $35 for 30 pounds of the chili to $160 for 25 pounds.

“Customers know there’s a shortage,” says Bharat Patel, the manager of India Grocers in Edison, N.J., which is now offering frozen alternatives and dried chilies such as kashmiri, a red pepper. They’re flying off the shelves in these desperate times.

Of course, it wasn’t always like this. Chili peppers were not even a part of Indian cuisine until they arrived from South America in the late 1500s. Before that New World import, black pepper gave the pungency to Indian food.

Too much time has passed to go back to that old grind, Mathur said. So with his customers craving the painful burn, Mathur is experimenting, mad scientist-style, with different blends of other spicy peppers.

“We’re thinking up new recipes,” he says, pessimistically.

With Peter Sblendorio

What is an Indian green chili pepper?

Name: Capsicum Annuum

Scoville Units: 20,000-50,000

Most common C. annuum varieties in Indian cusine: Santaka, Hontaka and Takanotsume.

Native to: South America

When in a Pickling Pickle…

The following is an excerpt from Becky Krystal’s article “When in a pickling pickle, how D.C. food businesses get around shortages,” appearing April 15 at

“The world was full of panic — and mock panic — early this year when Chipotle pulled carnitas from some of its restaurants after a pork supplier was found to be violating the chain’s animal-treatment standards. The shortage continues, with no end in sight.

What if that had happened to a small business? What do you do when even the slightest fluctuation in ingredient supplies can have an outsize impact on your bottom line? 

That is the kind of dilemma local restaurateurs and food business owners run into regularly. Weather can wreak particular havoc, as we all learned in last year’s margarita-threatening lime shortage.

Yi Wah Roberts, co-founder of fermented foods business Number 1 Sons, also got a firsthand lesson in the power of Mother Nature last year.

When it came to formulating their pickles, Roberts and his sister Caitlin decided that cucumbers from several West Virginia farms made superior half-sours, dills and more. “The cucumber pickles make up probably two-thirds of our sales,” Roberts said.

So imagine their dismay when Number 1 Sons ran out them last year, a development Roberts attributed to both their popularity and a shortage of cucumbers from growers. He would have preferred to have stocked up on cucumbers to cure and sell over the winter, but that wasn’t possible. Roberts said the farmers typically do two cucumber plantings, and the second planting did not yield the expected amount of produce.

Could such a thing be avoided in the future? Roberts’s light-bulb moment came recently when he attended a sustainable agriculture conference, where he learned what affected the second harvest: downy mildew. Because it can’t survive cold temperatures, the mildew surfaces late in the growing season after it blows north from Florida. It can take out cucumber plants in days, he said.

Roberts has talked to a scientist at Cornell University who is developing a mildew-resistant version of a pickling cucumber. (Most research so far has focused on slicing cucumbers, he said.) Number 1 Sons is also working with a seed grower in Virginia who will provide Roberts with mildew-resistant seeds to share at farmers markets with growers and customers. Both Bigg Riggs Farm and Spring Valley Farm and Orchard have agreed to try growing the in- development variety of cucumber.

“That is a potential success,” Roberts said. “The payoff’s a little further down the road, but it’s worth it.”

Knowing that the cucumber supply is at risk prompted Roberts to look at other ways to diversify and experiment. When he started polling fellow farmers-market vendors for ideas, he learned that they’re frequently left with extra chili peppers, which look great on the sales table but don’t always get cleared out by shoppers. Now Roberts plans to make hot sauce to sell this season.”

Krystal, Becky. “When in a Pickling Pickle, How D.C. Food Business Get Around Shortages.”  The Washington Post.  Washington Post, 15 April 2015.  Web.

Read the whole article at:

Pickle and Pepper Fun Facts

  • Pickling is one of the oldest forms of food preservation, discovered at the dawn of civilization, thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia.
  • North Americans prefer pickles with warts. Europeans prefer wartless pickles. Refrigerated pickles account for about 20 percent of all pickle sales.
  • International Pickle Week is one of the country’s longest running food promotions –it’s been observed for more than 50 years. IPW actually runs for 10 days during the last two weeks of May.
  • According to the U.S. Supreme Court, pickles are technically a “fruit” of the vine (like tomatoes), but they are generally known as a vegetable.
  • Americans consume more than 2.5 billion pounds of pickles each year – that’s 20 billion pickles! And since it takes almost 4 billion pickles to reach the moon, all the pickles we eat would reach the moon and back more than 2 times!
  • Pickle Packers International has its own official limerick and theme song – the Pickle Polka. The pickle got its name in the 1300s when English speaking people mispronounced William Beukelz’ name – he was a Dutch fisherman known for pickling fish.
  • The phrase “in a pickle” was first introduced by Shakespeare in his play, The Tempest. The quotes read, “How cam’st thou in this pickle?” and “I have been in such a pickle�”
  • On his voyage in 1492, Columbus not only discovered America, but gave peppers their name. In search of black pepper from the Orient, he assumed the spicy pods used to flavor foods in America were a form of black pepper and mistakenly called them “pimiento,” or pepper. Actually, the plants are not related at all.
  • The “hot” sensation one experiences when eating pickled peppers is caused by Capsaicin. This powerful substance can be detected at one part in a trillion.
  • During WWII the U.S. Government tagged 40 percent of all pickle production for the ration kits of the armed forces.
  • When you eat hot peppers, the pain receptors on the tongue react and cause a physical reaction called “sweating.” You start to salivate and perspire, your nose runs, your metabolism speeds up – this is all the body’s reaction working to cool itself.
  • Good pickles have an audible crunch at 10 paces. This can be measured at “crunch-off” using the “scientific” device known as the Audible Crunch Meter. Pickles that can be heard at only one pace are known as denture dills.