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Bell Pepper

Bell pepper, or sweet pepper, is the most popular of the chili peppers in the capsicum annuum family. It is a fruit pod of small perennial shrub in the nightshade or solanaceae family, in the genus, capsicum. Unlike their fellow capsicum members, sweet peppers have characteristic bell shape with crunchy, thick fleshy texture. Additionally, on comparison with other members, bell (sweet) peppers feature characteristically less pungency that ranges from zero to very minimal hotness. For the same reasons, they generally treated like any other common vegetables instead of spice.
Peppers are native to mexico and other central american region from where they spread to the rest of the world by spanish and portuguese explorers during 16th and 17th centuries. Today, they grown widely in many parts of the world as an important commercial crop. As in other chili pepper varieties, bell peppers also have several cultivar types. However, the plant type and fruit pod (with 3-5 lobes) are a common features in almost all cultivars.
In structure, sweet pepper features blocky, cube like outer flesh enclosing numerous tiny, white, or cream colored, circular and flat seeds. The seeds are actually clinging on to the central core (placenta). To harvest, peppers are handpicked at different stages of maturity depending upon the localapreferences. All varieties of unripe peppers feature green color pods, irrespective of their final destined color. As the fruit matures, it gradually acquires its true genetic color; orange, red, purple, yellow, etc.
The hotness of peppers is measured in ascoville heat unitsa (shu). On the scoville scale, a sweet bell pepper scores 0, while a jalapeno pepper around 2,500-4,000 and a mexican habaneros 200,000 to 500,000 units.
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Health benefits
Bell pepper contains an impressive list of plant nutrients that are found to have disease preventing and health promoting properties. Unlike in other fellow chili peppers, it has very less calories and fats. 100 g provides just 31 calories.
Sweet (bell) pepper contains small levels of health benefiting an alkaloid compound capsaicin. Early laboratory studies on experimental mammals suggest that capsaicin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties. When used judiciously, it also found to reduce triglycerides and ldl cholesterol levels in obese individuals.
Fresh bell peppers, red or green, are rich source of vitamin-c. This vitamin is especially concentrated in red peppers at the highest levels. 100 g red pepper provides about 127.7 ag or about 213% of rda of vitamin c. Vitamin-c is a potent water soluble antioxidant. Inside the human body, it is required for the collagen synthesis. Collagen is the main structural protein in the body required for maintaining the integrity of blood vessels, skin, organs, and bones. Regular consumption of foods rich in this vitamin helps the human body protect from scurvy; develop resistance against infectious agents (boosts immunity) and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.
It also contains good levels of vitamin-a. 100 g of sweet pepper has 3131 iu or 101% of vitamin a. In addition, it contains anti-oxidant flavonoids such as i plus-minus and i carotenes, lutein, zea-xanthin, and cryptoxanthin. Together, these antioxidant substances in sweet peppers help to protect the body from injurious effects of free radicals generated during stress and disease conditions.
Bell pepper has adequate levels of essential minerals. Some of the main minerals in it are iron, copper, zinc, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and selenium. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Selenium is an anti-oxidant micro-mineral that acts as a co-factor for enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
Further, capsicum (sweet pepper) is also good in b-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine (vitamin b-6), riboflavin, and thiamin (vitamin b-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish. B-complex vitamins facilitate cellular metabolism through various enzymatic functions.


Notice
The information and reference guides on this website are intended solely for the general information for the reader. It is not to be used to diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provider for any advice on medications