Bell pepper

Many people like juicy crispy pods of sweet pepper, which is called Bulgarian in the post-Soviet space. Do you think because the birthplace of this vegetable is Bulgaria? Not at all! And by the way, sweet peppers are not a vegetable at all in terms of biology. Do you know the difference between yellow, red and green peppers? If not, then we are ready to reveal all the secrets and paradoxes of this plant. Believe me, it is much more interesting and useful than we used to think.

General characteristics

Sweet (or capsicum) pepper is a plant from the nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes. Despite the fact that in everyday life everyone is used to calling pepper fruits vegetables, in fact they are not. The fruits of sweet pepper are botanically fruits, but for convenience we will still call them vegetables.

From hot varieties ( chili, black, cayenne ) sweet pepper differs primarily in shape: it has a more fleshy and crispy pod with a delicate taste. Compared to spicy varieties, the level of "burning" in the Bulgarian fruit is kept within zero. For this reason, sweet peppers are used as a vegetable in the kitchen, while hot varieties are considered as spices. And all because in sweet pepper there is practically no substance capsaicin, which, in fact, gives a sharp taste to the fruit.

All peppers, including sweet ones, come from Mexico and other regions of Central America, where this crop has been growing for over 9 thousand years. Thanks to Spanish and Portuguese navigators in the 16th-17th centuries, this vegetable came to Europe and spread to other regions of the planet. By the way, it was the European colonialists who called pepper pepper. But in Bulgaria, many do not even realize that in the countries of the former Soviet Union, sweet pepper is called Bulgarian. And all because once Bulgarian breeders bred several varieties of leguminous vegetables, which the inhabitants of the USSR really liked. Since then, the name "Bulgarian" has "stuck" to all varieties of sweet pepper.

Although this plant belongs to heat-loving cultures, it is cultivated on all continents (except Antarctica) without much difficulty. By indicatorsChina has been the leader in the industrial cultivation of Bulgarian vegetables for several years, Mexico is in second place, followed by the United States.

What is the difference between red, yellow and green

Many people think that green, yellow and red peppers belong to different varieties. Moreover, their taste is different, and their prices vary significantly. In fact, everything is much simpler: the difference in color is just the difference in the degree of maturity of the vegetable. Yellow or orange is usually an unripe red, although there are varieties that ripen to yellow. And green is green, that is, unripe pepper. Usually green vegetables are much cheaper, because they took less time to grow, and red vegetables are the most expensive, because the process of caring for them was more expensive.

There is an objective explanation why peppers of different colors taste different. The point is the chemical composition of vegetables, which is actually slightly different. Green fruits contain a lot of chlorophyll and have a bitter taste. Despite the fact that the green vegetable is harvested at the stage of semi-ripening, it contains many useful substances. It is a good source of potassium, which is essential for regulating blood pressure, vitamin C, which promotes tissue repair and immunity, and vitamin A, which is beneficial for vision and lungs.

Yellow and red fruits are rich in lutein and beta-carotene. In the course of ripening, the amount of hexenal and hexanol in their composition increases, which give the vegetables a sweetish fruity flavor. Red pepper contains more than other varieties of lycopene, which protects against cancer, as well as eye-healthy zeaxanthin and lutein. In addition, it holds the record for vitamin A content.

Since yellow and orange peppers are between green and red in ripeness, this fact affects their chemical composition, which is also something in between.

Chemical composition and nutritional characteristics

Fresh bell peppers are approximately 92% water, and most of their calories come from carbohydrates. It is clear that the chemical composition of different varieties of red pepper is slightly different, but still the benefits for the body are almost the same for everyone.

In particular, the carbohydrates in this vegetable are predominantly simple sugars ( glucose, fructose ), which also impart a sweetish flavor to the ripe fruit. Peppers are a good source of fiber and a leader in the content of some vitamins. One medium-sized vegetable contains more than 150% of the daily value of vitamin C, making this fruit one of the best sources of ascorbic acid. Vitamins of group B in the chemical composition of the fetus are almost completely represented. In particular, bell pepper can be considered as a source of vitamin B6, which is important for the formation of red blood cells, as well as folic acid (vitamin B9), an indispensable substance for expectant mothers. Different varieties of sweet peppers are rich in antioxidant vitamins - A and E, and red and green fruits also contain potassium, which is beneficial for healthy bones and good blood clotting.

In addition, the Bulgarian vegetable is rich in substances with pronounced properties of antioxidants. Among the most important antioxidant components, researchers name:

  • violaxanthin, an antioxidant found in abundance in yellow fruits;
  • lutein - abundant in green pods, sufficient intake of which can improve eye health;
  • quercetin is a polyphenolic substance that is useful in the prevention of cancer and heart disease;
  • luteolin is a polyphenol known for its complex effects on the human body.

Most of us tend to think that beneficial sulfur compounds are found only in cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and other cabbages) and fruits onion family. But sweet peppers can also be a valuable source of sulfur. In particular, recent studies have confirmed the presence of such compounds in different varieties of Bulgarian pods, which allowed scientists to enroll them among the products that improve metabolism and prevent cell mutation in the body.

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Nutritional value per 100 g of raw pepper: comparison table
Components Red pepper Green pepper Yellow pepper
Calories 31 kcal 20 kcal 27 kcal
Water 92 g 94 g 92 g
Fiber 2.1 g 1.7 g 0.9 g
Proteins 1 g 0.9 g 1 g
Fat 0.3 g 0.2 g 0.2 g
Carbohydrates 6 g 4.6 g 6.3 g
Vitamin A 157 mcg 18 mcg 10 mcg
Vitamin C 127.7 mg 80.4 mg 183.5 mg
Vitamin E 1.58 mg 0.37 mg -
Vitamin K 4.9 mcg 7.4 mcg -
Vitamin B1 0.05 mg 0.06 mg 0.03 mg
Vitamin B2 0.09 mg 0.03 mg 0.03 mg
Vitamin B3 0.98 mg 0.48 mg 0.89 mg
Vitamin B4 ) 5.6 mg 5.5 mg
Vitamin B5 0.32 mg 0.1 mg 0.17 mg
Vitamin B6 0.32 mg 0.22 mg 0.17 mg
Vitamin B9 46 mg 10 mcg 26 mcg
Calcium 7 mg 10 mg 11 mg
Iron 0.43 mg 0.34 mg 0.46 mg
Magnesium 12 mg10 mg 12 mg
Phosphorus 26 mg 20 mg 24 mg
Potassium 211 mg 175 mg 212 mg
Sodium 4 mg 3 mg 2 mg
Zinc 0.25 mg 0.13 mg 0.17 mg
Copper 0.02 mg 0.07 mg 0.11 mg
Manganese 0.11 mg 0.12 mg 0.12 mg
Selenium 0.1 µg 0.3 µg

Health benefits

Researchers have long proven that regular consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables has a beneficial effect on the human body, including as a prevention of the most serious illnesses. But the chemical composition of different fruits is significantly different, which means that their benefits for our health also differ. Now let's find out whysweet pepper is special and what are its main advantages.

Prevents cancer

While many foods acquire antioxidant properties due to vitamins A, C and E, sweet peppers have much more antioxidant properties. In addition to vitamins, these pods contain an impressive list of other powerful antioxidants including flavonoids, carotenoids, and organic acids. By the way, after analyzing the composition of antioxidant substances in different groups of vegetables, the researchers came to the conclusion that sweet peppers contain a unique set of antioxidants, which is repeated only in tomatoes. Antioxidants are the best defense against cancer. And as already mentioned, the composition of the Bulgarian vegetable contains sulfur-containing compounds that also have anti-cancer properties.

Improves eye health

Among the most common vision disorders, ophthalmologists name cataracts and macular degeneration of the eyes, which usually affect older people. However, proper nutrition can significantly slow down and even prevent the onset of disease. In the composition of sweet peppers, scientists have found more than three dozen different types of carotenoids, including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin. These substances not only give vegetables their bright color, but can also significantly improve eye health. In other words, if you want to protect yourself from ophthalmic problems, then you should make friends with sweet pepper.

Prevents anemia

Insufficient iron intake is the cause of anemia. And Bulgarian vegetables will help to overcome this disease. Firstly, they are a real storehouse of iron, and secondly, vegetables are rich in vitamin C, which improves the absorption of iron. For this reason, experts advise as often as possible to serve fresh sweet peppers as a side dish with meat, and also not to forget about these bright pods when eating spinach rich in iron .

Strengthens the immune system

This vegetable is a real treasure trove of vitamins and minerals important for health. Vitamin C alone in fruits contains almost one and a half daily norms. And this is already a serious argument in favor of the immunomodulatory properties of the Bulgarian vegetable.

Improves mood and regulates sleep

Vitamin B6 is the best defense against depressed mood and insomnia. Once in the body, it promotes the production of serotonin and norepinephrine - chemicals responsible for good mood. Can't sleep at night for a long time? Eat sweet peppers! Vitamin B6 contained in it also contributes to the production of melatonin in the body, a substance that helpsset the biological clock.

Promotes weight loss

100 grams of sweet pods are ridiculously low in calories and almost no fat. This is great news for people who want to lose weight. In this case, sweet peppers, rich in useful minerals and vitamins, are an ideal product for a low-calorie snack.

Other Benefits

In addition to the benefits already mentioned, bell pepper has the ability to detoxify the body, regulate blood pressure, and support healthy muscle tissue. Regular consumption of this vegetable helps to prevent respiratory diseases, treat gastrointestinal disorders, diarrhea and dyspepsia. In addition, sweet pepper juice is considered useful for the treatment of sore throats and nosebleeds, it can lower cholesterol levels and have anti-inflammatory effects. Eating these fruits will help strengthen blood vessels, prevent thrombosis and atherosclerosis, and improve the general well-being of people suffering from diabetes mellitus.

Sweet pepper is useful for people with insufficient secretion of gastric juice, for osteoporosis, for nervous disorders, and also as a natural antispasmodic.

Benefits for hair, skin and nails

Everyone dreams of beautiful and healthy hair. But malnutrition, poor ecology and diseases can cause thinning, hair loss and splitting, and dandruff. Sweet pepper improves blood circulation, which has a beneficial effect on the scalp and accelerates the growth of new hair. In addition, pepper contains many substances that help strengthen hair and nails.

Bright Bulgarian fruits contain huge reserves of vitamin C, which promotes the production of collagen in the body. It is from this substance that the elasticity and freshness of the skin depends. Also, do not forget about the huge list of antioxidants, and they are known to be the worst enemies of wrinkles and early aging. Green pepper and carrot juice will help clear the face of age spots. Sweet peppers are a good source of vitamin E, which is essential for skin health. If you want to keep your skin fresh for a long time, and make your hair strong and shiny, then fresh pepper should always be in the diet.

Potential side effects

Sweet peppers are one of the ten fruits most commonly found to contain high levels of pesticides. Doctors say that eating such a product can be very dangerous. In addition, there are a number of diseases in which Bulgarian fruits should not be consumed, especially if they are excessively carried away. Although sweet pepper tastesmore gentle than its spicy cousins, but gastroenterologists still do not recommend this product for people with high stomach acid, gastritis, and peptic ulcers. Bulgarian pepper also falls into the “black list” of products for people with hypertension, coronary heart disease, arrhythmia and tachycardia, liver and kidney diseases (especially in the acute stage), as well as colitis and intestinal disorders.

How to choose and store properly

When buying sweet peppers in a store or market, it is important to remember that the maximum amount of nutrients is found in ripe and fresh vegetables. Therefore, you should choose fruits with a deep bright color, not sluggish, without spots and rot. The stalk should be green and fresh. A ripe bell pepper should be quite heavy, but if the vegetable is very light, it means that it has already begun to dry out. But the shape of the fruit does not affect its nutritional characteristics.

Despite the fact that bell peppers are available in supermarkets throughout the year, the most useful substances are found in fruits harvested in summer or early autumn.

By the way, scientists recently determined that it is necessary to wash bell peppers only in cold water - under the influence of hot water, some antioxidants are destroyed.

Ripe fruit should not be kept too long. Experts say that already 10 days after full ripening, bell peppers lose almost 15% of vitamin C, and after 20 days the loss increases to 25%. But not fully ripe vegetables during storage, on the contrary, will continue to ripen, and the amount of vitamin C in them will increase.

It is better to store the vegetable in the refrigerator (the optimal time is up to 7-10 days), since under the influence of light and heat, some useful substances contained in the fruit lose their properties. In addition, the vegetable is suitable for storage in the freezer.

What to cook with sweet pepper

Bulgarian pepper is one of the most popular vegetables in the world. It is used raw, grilled, added to soups and stews, cooked with meat and fish, stuffed, added to salads. This type of pepper goes well with almost all vegetables, including potatoes, carrots, eggplant, green beans, tomatoes, garlic and onions. Almost all spices and herbs are suitable for it. Bulgarian fruits harmonize with chicken, fish and seafood, which makes it possible to add the vegetable to meat and fish salads. The combination of sweet peppers with meat, nuts, cheddar cheese and dried fruits perfectly emphasizes the taste of each other. By the way, this set of products is traditionally used for stuffing fresh peppers, which are then boiled.or baked. In Chinese cuisine, finely chopped sweet peppers are added to traditional noodles, while Italians add them to pasta and pizza. A grilled vegetable is well served with a sauce of cheese and olive oil.

And if you are reading these lines, now you already know exactly how to choose the right sweet pepper in order to treat yourself and your loved ones to the most delicious and healthy vegetable. Moreover, now you know almost everything about the benefits of Bulgarian fruits.

Sources
  1. Cosmetics Info. – Capsaicin.
  2. Levkovskaya E. V., Ulyanova N. A., Bulletin of the Don State Agrarian University. - The study of the properties of bell pepper and its recommendations in the production of meat products.
  3. Internet resource “Nutrition and you”. – Bell pepper nutrition facts.
  4. T Sun, Z Xu, C-T Wu, M Janes, W Prinyawiwatkul, H K No, 2007. – Antioxidant Activities of Different Colored Sweet Bell Peppers (Capsicum Annuum L.).
  5. Ruth Clark, Seong-Ho Lee, 2016. – Anticancer properties of capsaicin against human cancer.
  6. ResearchGate (professional network for scientists and researchers). – Determination of vitamin C in various colors of Bell Pepper.
  7. Young-In Kwon, Emmanouil Apostolidis, Kalidas Shetty, 2007. – Evaluation of pepper (CAPSICUM ANNUUM) for management of diabetes and hypertension.