Eat Your Colours With Capsicum

You may call it bell pepper, chili pepper, sweet pepper or “tanglung”, the capsicum that we usually find in our local supermarket comes from the Capsicum annuum plant. Shaped like a decorative ornament or lantern, capsicums are fruit vegetables that belong to the nightshade family which includes members like potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant.


The species is most common and used throughout the world. Their plump shape and glossy appearance come in a plethora of colours such as green, red, yellow, orange, purple, white, blue, pink, brown and black depending on when and where they are harvested. Capsicums usually have three or four lobes while some do come out smoothly without any distinguishing features. Inside the vegetable, its thick flesh protects an inner cavity of bitter seeds and white sponge-like core that are both edible.


Capsicums are crunchy, juicy and can be eaten raw like an apple. Green, red and yellow ones are more commonly found on the aisles while the other colours are harder to find. Green capsicums are slightly bitter while reds are sweeter. Yellow ones are more similar to its red sister’s taste.


Although they are varied in colour, the green, red and yellow capsicums are the same fruit from the same plant but picked at different times. Green is picked earlier, and if left to mature, it turns red. Like any fruit, the longer it is left on the plant, the more time it has to ripen and get sweeter. The taste of capsicums also differ according to growing conditions, harvest time, storage and treatment.


Since reds are sweeter than greens, they are delicious eaten raw in salads and roasted in oven or barbeque. Green ones are better used for stir fries to impart its mildly pungent flavour into the dish while yellow capsicum adds colour and vibrancy to the plate.


Capsicums are high in vitamin C and bioflavanoids. They contain beta-carotene, a whole range of vitamin B complex (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B9), vitamin A, vitamin E and potassium with powerful anti-oxidant properties. The redder the vegetable, the more beta-carotene it has. Capsicums contain folate, capsaicin, lutein, zeaxanthin, manganese, thiamine, molybdenum, trytophan, copper, cobalt and zinc as well.


For every 100 g, green capsicums provide 15 Calories; yellow, 26 Calories; and red, 32 Calories. This means, its calorific values correspond with ripeness of the vegetable. Also, the stronger the colour of the capsicum, the higher concentration level of anti-oxidants. Every colour has its unique phytochemicals and in order to benefit from all its nutrients, it is recommended to consume capsicums in colours.


There are plenty of health benefits of eating capsicum making it a food that not only taste good, but also functional and medicinal. Increase your consumption of capsicums to:


Prevent cancer: Since capsicums store very high amounts of anti-oxidants and phytonutrients, they are helpful in preventing cancers of the bladder, cervix, pancreas and prostate. The anti-oxidant properties neutralize free radicals that are responsible for damaging our body’s tissue and cells.


Reduce cholesterol: Concentrated amounts of anti-oxidants combat oxidation stress that is the main culprit in oxidizing the LDLs in our blood. It lowers blood pressure and retards the hardening of the arteries; thus, warding off strokes and heart attacks.


Prevent infections: Capsicums are anti-septic therefore effectively fights food poisoning. When coupled with probiotics, it can even eliminate yeast and fungal infections by creating an anti-bacterial environment that protects the body.


Improve digestive system: Capsicum stimulates stomach secretions and helps relieve gastrointestinal (indigestion, stomach ulcers, colic, dyspepsia, diarrhoea and flatulence) problems. This vegetable has a laxative effect that aids the removal of waste products and increases the flow of nutrients to the tissues.


Rev-up metabolism: Regular consumption of capsicum increases our body metabolism by lowering triglycerides. It is also helpful in slowing down the assimilation of fat in the intestines, fight against obesity by speeding up the burn of more calories. People suffering from diabetes should have capsicums to lower the sugar level.


Prevent blood clots and nose bleeds: Vitamin C prevents blood clot and since the capsicum has copious amounts in it, the vegetable can ward off strokes and cardiac arrests. The lining of the mucous membranes benefits from vitamin C that helps to heal, repair, build and strengthen itself to prevent nose bleeds.


Strengthen immune system: Again, the strong content of vitamin C stimulates white cells to fight infection by naturally building a good immune system. Capsicum promotes healing while staving off bodily infections.


Relief cold feet: You may not know this traditional remedy but you can chop some capsicum and put them in socks to keep your feet warm from its mild heat. Doctors do recommend capsicum in diets of people who suffer from severe cold.


Slow aging and enhance optical system: Capsicum is beneficial to the eyes and skin due to its high anti-oxidant content that protects the skin from free radical damage. The high vitamin C and beta-carotene prevents eye problems like astigmatism, cataracts and macular degeneration.


Relief pain: Capsaicin, found in capsicum, blocks transmission of pain to help relieve pain to a certain degree. It also triggers the release of endorphins, the neurotransmitters produced in the brain, which reduce pain. It is effective for eliminating headaches and migraines.


Ease respiratory problems: High levels of vitamin C coupled with flavonoids make capsicum a very good food that helps prevent respiratory problems like asthma, emphysema, wheezing and lung infections.


Sore throat: Simply gargle some capsicum juice when you have a sore throat! The anti-septic properties will work its magic.

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