Latin name: Capsicum annuum
Other names: capsicum, paprika, sweet pepper
What is a Bell Pepper?
Tangy and crunchy, bell peppers come in a rainbow of colors ranging from green, red, yellow, orange to purple. Because they contain a recessive gene that eliminates capsaicin, bell peppers are not ‘hot’ like all other chili peppers. It is so-named “bell pepper” for its plump, blocky, bell shape. In flavor, green and purple peppers are slightly bitter, while the red, orange and yellow peppers are sweeter. Both pimento and paprika are prepared from red bell peppers.
Bell peppers are thought to have originated in South America from the same wild variety as their relatives the chili peppers, back in 5000 BC. They were spread throughout the world by the Spanish and Portuguese explorers who traveled through South America.
What are the health benefits of Bell Peppers?
Slightly warm, pungent and sweet in nature, traditional Chinese medicine uses bell peppers to treat indigestion, decreased appetite, swelling, frostbite, and food retention. Its actions are considered to strengthen the stomach, improve the appetite, promote blood circulation, remove stagnant food, and reduce swelling.
Bell peppers are chock full of vitamin C and A, two antioxidants that work together to effectively neutralize free radicals. Research indicates that for smokers, vitamin A–rich foods, such as peppers, increase your lifespan. Both vitamin A and beta-carotene support vision health. Peppers contain vitamin B6, folic acid, and fiber, all helpful for protection against atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease.
Compared to green peppers, red bell peppers contain more vitamins and nutrients, especially lycopene, a carotenoid that can help protect against certain cancers such as prostate and cervical cancers. Additionally, red peppers also have twice the vitamin C content of green peppers.
Are there any precautions for Bell Peppers?
As members of the nightshade family, bell peppers are often discouraged in the diets of any suffering from arthritis; however, no case-controlled scientific studies confirm these observations.
Where can I find Bell Peppers?
Bell peppers can be found in most grocery stores and outdoor markets in season. They are most abundant and flavorful at the end of summer.
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