Bell pepper benefits are numerous, but before we get into them, let’s learn a little more about the history of this fantastic food. Without a doubt, when Christopher Columbus arrived on American shores in search of Asian spices, he had the occasion to try a hot chili. Shortly after, the pepper was grown in Spain and other southern European countries.
Spanish and Portuguese sailors took it to Asia and Africa during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. And so, the pepper spread worldwide, even though it did not gain popularity in countries such as Germany until the middle of the twentieth century. Although the first bell peppers from Central America were hot, horticultural techniques have produced many sweet varieties without hinting at their piquant ancestry.
Bell Pepper Nutritional Facts
Peppers contain little protein (0.89 percent) and carbohydrates (4.4 percent), and virtually no fat (0.19 percent). Because of this, they have only 27 kcal/100 grams. They also contain lesser amounts of B group vitamins, vitamin E, and all dietary minerals. However, two vitamins are particularly noteworthy:
PROVITAMIN A (beta-carotene), with 570 ug ER/100 grams (sweet red pepper), represents more than half of the daily necessity of this vitamin for an adult male. Green peppers contain only 63 ug RE/100 grams. Only spinach, chard, and, of course, carrots contain more provitamin A than red pepper. In addition to beta-carotene, which transforms into vitamin A in the body, peppers also provide other carotenoids such as lycopene. This carotenoid is also very abundant in tomatoes. While it does not transform into vitamin A, it is a potent antioxidant that protects against the cancerous degeneration of the cells.
VITAMIN C – Peppers are the richest of common foods in this vitamin (190 mg/100 grams). It is surpassed by rose-hip (600 mg/100 grams) and acerola (1678 mg/100 grams). Red peppers provide almost four times as much vitamin C as lemons or oranges: One hundred grams of red peppers contain more than triple the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance). The green pepper is not as rich in vitamin C (89.3 mg/100 grams). However, its remaining nutrients are present in similar proportions. Peppers are also significant for other non-nutritive substances:
FLAVONOIDS – These are potent anti-inflammatory antioxidants that protect the circulatory system.
CAPSAICIN – This substance makes hot peppers hot. Sweet peppers contain 0.1 percent, ten times less than hot peppers (1 percent more). At low doses, as found in sweet peppers, capsaicin is an aperitif and stimulates digestion, although it irritates the skin and mucosa at higher doses.
VEGETABLE FIBER – Peppers contain approximately two percent. This, along with capsaicin, contributes to their laxative action.
Bell Pepper Benefits
The dietary and therapeutic bell pepper benefits are the following:
STOMACH PROBLEMS – Peppers are beneficial for those suffering from dyspepsia (indigestion) due to scanty digestive juices or digestive atonia because they work as an aperitif, stimulating the flow of gastric juice and reducing inflammation.
CONSTIPATION – Peppers are a mild laxative and are anti-flatulent.
DIABETES and OBESITY – Because they contain very few carbohydrates or calories, peppers are well tolerated by diabetics and are suitable for the diets of the obese.
PREVENTION OF CANCER OF THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM – Because of their extraordinary richness of antioxidant vitamins (A and C), which protect the cells from the mutagenic action of carcinogens, regular pepper consumption contributes to the prevention of cancer, particularly in the digestive organs (stomach and colon).
Bell Pepper Scientific Facts
- Scientific name – Capsicum annuum L.
- Other names – Sweet pepper, Paprika, Sweet bell pepper, Green pepper.
- French – Piment.
- Spanish – Pimiento, ají [dulce], chile [dulce]
- German – Paprika.
- Description – This is the fruit of the pepper plant, a herbaceous plant of the botanical family Solanaceae that grows to a height of 60 cm. The fruit tends to be red, green, or yellow. However, there are orange, purple, and even black specimens.
- Environment – Peppers have their origin in Central America. They are grown in the five continents’ temperate and subtropical regions. China, Turkey, Mexico, Spain, and Hungary are major producing countries.
The skin of the pepper may be problematic for those with sensitive stomachs. To remove it, roast the whole pepper in the oven until the skin begins to separate. Immediately place it in icy water, thus facilitating skin removal.
Once roasted, peppers may be seasoned with oil, a little salt, lemon, garlic, and parsley. They are deliciously prepared this way and will be fine if kept in the refrigerator for several days.
Red peppers contain more provitamin A and vitamin C than green peppers, although the remaining nutrients are in about the same proportion in both. The seeds, particularly the membranes covering them, can give the fruit a bitter taste and should be eliminated.
How to use and Prepare Bell Pepper
- RAW – When peppers are young and tender, they may be eaten raw in a salad, which provides maximum nutritional benefit. In this case, they must be thinly sliced and well chewed.
- COOKED – The most healthful way to cook peppers is to roast them in the oven. Fried peppers are quite indigestible because of the large amount of oil they absorb. Peppers are part of various culinary recipes, particularly sauces and “Pisto” (a Spanish dish of cooked peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, and other vegetables).
- PAPRIKA – This is powdered dried red pepper. It may be sweet or slightly spicy. It is rich in provitamin A and gives a pleasant red color to sauces, potatoes, rice, and a variety of other dishes; thus, it is used as a healthful culinary coloring.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power. Trans. Annette Melgosa. Vol. 2. Chai Wan: Editorial Safeliz, 2005. 198, 199. Print. [bell pepper benefits]