November 17, 2013

Health benefits & medicinal uses of capsicum / bell pepper

Capsicum is a genus of plants some of whose members are used as spices, vegetables and medicines. They originated in Central and South America, but are now grown throughout the world. Cayenne or Capsicum or hot pepper derives its name from the Greek, 'to bite', in allusion to the hot pungent properties of the fruits and seeds.

The name given to the fruits varies between English-speaking countries. In the United Kingdom, the heatless versions are called 'peppers'. In America they are referred to as bell peppers, hot peppers, or red peppers.The name 'pepper' came into use because the plants were hot in the same sense as the condiment black pepper but there is no botanical relationship with this plant, however.


The part of this plant that is used is its fruit which contains capsaicin (methyl vaniyll nonenamide), a lipophile chemical that can produce a strong burning sensation in the mouth. Capsicum or Cayenne, derived from chili peppers, is highly nutritious, containing vitamin C and B-complex vitamins as well as iron, calcium, and phosphorus. The red color of many chili peppers is due to their high vitamin A content. Capsicums vary in horticultural ripe colour and may be green, yellow orange, bright red, lavender, brownish purple, or other colors depending on variety and on what stage of botanical ripeness is considered best for use.

Though bell peppers are often referred to as capsicums in India, bell peppers are rather sweet and in reality have little or no capsaicin in them and therefore not 'hot' like other peppers. These can be touted as a superfood as they are storehouse of nutrients.They are a great source of vitamin C and contain twice the amount of vitamin C than citrus fruits. They are also an excellent source of excellent source of carotenoids and phytonutrients. Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6 or minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, zinc - you name it and it has all of them! If you allow the green ones to ripen into red ones, they become all the more nutritious. Vitamin C and carotenoid content  increases tremendously when bell peppers ripen.

Ripe red bell peppers are more nutritious and contain more vitamin C and carotenoids than green ones.

Health Benefits / Medicinal Uses:
* Traditionally, chili peppers have been used in condiments to promote digestion and are believed to cleanse the blood, assist with bowel pain, gas and cramps.

* As a cardiovascular stimulant, capsicum assists in lowering blood pressure and breaking down cholesterol buildup.

* The warming properties of capsicum are useful for people suffering from poor circulation to the hands and feet and other related conditions.

* Capsicum has been used as a digestive aid to ease intestinal inflammation, stimulate protective mucus membranes of the stomach, and also relieve pain caused by ulcers.

* The dried fruit is a powerful local stimulant with no narcotic effect, it is most useful in ailments of the intestine and stomach.

* It has proved efficacious in dilating blood vessels and thus relieving chronic congestion of people addicted to drink.

* Capsicum is used to buffer pain from other ailments, including arthritis, varicose veins, menstrual cramps and respiratory conditions such as asthma.

* Rich in antioxidants, flavanoids and phytonutrients, bell peppers are potential anti-cancer foods and may help ward off certain cancers.

* With plenty of vitamin C in them, regular consumption of bell peppers can strengthen the immune system and ward off many diseases. Vitamin C rich foods also help in keeping the skin youthful.

All the parts of the capsicum plant are useful:

Fruit - raw or cooked. Very hot and normally used a flavoring. The fruit can be dried and ground into a powder for use as a flavouring in many dishes. Finely chopped bell peppers can be addes to salads and soups. Sautéing or stir-fry is one of the healthiest way of cooking this vegetable while retaining most of the nutrients.

Seed - dried, ground and used as pepper.

Leaves - cooked as potherb.

Known hazards: Although no known reports have been seen for this species, many plants in this family produce toxins in their leaves. The sap of the plant can cause the skin to blister.

By Smitha

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  1. In the digestive system, bell peppers stimulate the appetite, act on the spasms, flatulence, and jaundice, and avoid pyorrhea or gum disease.

  2. Medini3:03 PM

    bell peppers are used in the treatment of tonsillitis, asthma, bronchitis, diphtheria, sinusitis, and cough. Also in cases of aphonia.

  3. Medini3:04 PM

    bell peppers activate circulation. They are also used against insect stings and spider bites

  4. Anonymous3:06 PM

    The capsicum in hot peppers is a traditional pain reliever. By applying the hot pepper to the affected area it will increase blood flow and numb the pain.


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