Capsicum is the genus of pepper plants, which includes sweet peppers such as bell peppers. These peppers are a part of the nightshade family along with eggplant, potatoes and tomatoes. This vegetable is native to the Americas but is produced and used worldwide in international cuisines and as natural remedies. Capsicums are sweet and tangy, though the green varieties tend to taste more bitter.
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Types of Capsicum
Capsicum comes in different colors and species and because of that the vegetable lends varied nutritional and flavor profiles. Some of the most common types of capsicums include:
- Red capsicum
- Yellow capsicum
- Green capsicum
- Orange capsicum
- Purple/Black capsicum
These different colors are due to distinct pigments that attribute to varying nutrients and antioxidants profile.
Red Capsicum – Red capsicums, for example contain more phytonutrients than any of the other capsicums, making them the type with the highest antioxidants content. It has 11 times more beta-carotene, and one and a half times more vitamin C than green varieties.
Green Capsicum – Green capiscums contain less sugar than red, yellow or orange varieties. People sometimes report digestive issues with green capiscums, as this variety contains more short chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine.
Nutritional Value of Capsicum
Among the different types of capsicum, there are also different nutritional profiles. For the benefit of weighing in on the nutritional value of a capsicum we will include all colors and varieties of the capsicum. Capsicum contains very low fat and is very high in fibre as well as water content. There is also a low amount of carbohydrates and calories in capsicum and is the reason why it is so beneficial for weight loss programs or if you’re looking for a healthy, light snack.
|Nutrients||Value (in 1 cup)|
|Total Carbohydrate||6.9 gram|
|Dietary fiber||2.5 gram|
Vitamins and Minerals
Capsicum not only contains high amounts of fibre, but it contains high amounts of micro-nutrients that are extremely beneficial to your body’s function. Capsicum is extremely high in vitamin C and covers about 213% of your daily recommended intake. Vitamin C is essential for many processes in the body including immune function, wound healing and the synthesis of collagen. In addition to vitamin C, capsicum is also high in vitamin A, comprising 93% of your daily recommended intake. Vitamin A is vital for immune support, reproduction and vision strength. Red and orange peppers are especially high in carotenoids, a form of vitamin A.
Also, capsicum is relatively high in vitamin B6, a vitamin that is significant for the metabolism of protein, fats and carbohydrates. And folate, which is a crucial B-vitamin required for the production of white and red blood cells in the bone marrow. Capsicum also contains trace amounts of niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, and pantothenic acid.
Free radicals are produced by the body through oxidation and exposure to toxins like pollution, certain food, over exposure to sunlight, and alcohol. These free radicals can produce chain reactions that can damage cells. Antioxidants help stop this process by inhibiting oxidation and protecting cells from further damage.
Capsicum contains a whole array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can protect our cells and boost our immune system. Here are some additional benefits of capsicum you may not have been aware of:
1. Eye Health
Capsicum is incredibly beneficial for vision health. The reason is because capsicums are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that can protect your retina from oxidative damage. Studies show that consuming foods that contain high amounts of carotenoids can protect your eyes from macular degeneration.
2. Prevents Anemia
Anemia is a condition that usually results because of low iron in the body. A characteristic of the condition is that it reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood. As a result, most people with anemia, feel sluggish and tired without a clear reason. Capsicum are very high in vitamin C and are moderately high in iron. The combination of these two vitamins and minerals allow iron to absorb more effectively.
3. Reduces Anxiety
Capsicum is high in both magnesium and vitamin B6. These two vitamins are essential for nerve function and help relieve anxiety and prevent panic attacks. Magnesium can also help with tense muscles that result from anxiety. It also helps with proper heartbeat regulation.
4. Prevents Cancer
Capsicum contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to prevent certain types of cancers. In fact, orange capsicum has been found to cut prostate cancer growth rate by 75%.
5. Boost Immunity
Capsicum is very high in Vitamin C. In fact red capsicum has the highest vitamin C content among most of the fruit and vegetables. Foods high in vitamin C are beneficial for the immune system. The vitamin C in capsicum can protect the body against infection by encouraging production of white blood cells.
6. Improves Bone Health
Capsicum is rich in manganese, a mineral that is a cofactor in the formation of bone cartilage and bone collagen and is essential for bone mineralization. The Vitamin K in capsicum also plays a role in strengthening bones and protecting against osteoporosis.
Weight Loss Benefits of Capsicum
Capsicum contains a nutritional profile that is excellent for weight loss. Not only are capsicums rich in vitamins and minerals, but they are high in fibre and water content. Choosing vegetables and fruits that are high in fibre and nutrient dense is key to losing weight and weight maintenance. Fiber and water also provides the feeling of satiety and can effectively suppress the appetite and prevent overeating.
Capsicums contain high amounts of vitamin B6. This vitamin is essential for many metabolic processes. It helps break down proteins into amino acids, aids in the synthesis of glucose from carbohydrates and breaks down fats effectively. Vitamin B6 can also help maintain your blood glucose and prevent blood sugar spikes. When losing weight, it’s important to keep blood sugar balanced in order to prevent sugar cravings and overeating.
Red capsicums generally contain higher amounts of antioxidants and nutrients that aid in weight loss than other varieties. These phytonutrients help in preventing conditions like free radical formation and internal inflammation that act as predisposing factors of obesity and associated metabolic disorders. So if you are confused as to which capsicum to choose for your weight loss journey, the more red the vegetable, the better. However, if you are looking to dramatically reduce sugar or if you are diabetic, green capsicums contain less sugar than other varieties and can provide a good low sugar snack.
Best Ways to Incorporate Capsicum in Meals
Owing to the availability of different varieties of capsicum with varying colors, tastes, and benefits, there are lots of ways to incorporate capsicum into meals. capsicum can be used in recipes such as curries, pizzas, breakfast hashes, stir fries, pasta dishes. soups, salads, or roasted as a topping for hummus. The best way to incorporate capsicum into your diet is by pairing it with a dip and eating it raw. Capsicum are sweet and tangy making this veggie perfect for eating on its own. The vegetable can also be juiced along with other fruits, lemon juice and greens. Capsicum can be destemmed and cored, making it perfect for stuffing rice, quinoa, potatoes or other meats inside. Here is a recipe for a fragrant, hearty stuffed capsicum.
Vegetarian Stuffed capsicum
- 4 medium sized capsicum
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled, cubed and boiled
- 1 large onion
- 100 g paneer
- ½ carrot, chopped,
- ½ cup peas
- 1-2 green chili
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- ½ piece of ginger
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- ½ tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp dry mango powder
- ½ cup coriander leaves
- 1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
- Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Add cumin seeds and cook until they start to splutter. Add grated ginger, garlic and green chilies to the mixture.
- Now, add onions and cook until onions are translucent.
- Next, add salt, red chili powder, garam masala, coriander powder, turmeric powder, and dry mango powder and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Further, add boiled potatoes and mash slightly with the rest of the mixture. Add carrots and peas or other vegetables of choice.
- Now, add the grated paneer and chopped coriander leaves. Mix together and then set aside.
- For stuffing, cut the capsicum and remove the seeds. Cut the bottom slightly so the capsicum can sit on a flat surface.
- Now, fill the capsicum with the stuffing and flatten slightly. Bake stuffed capsicum in a 350F oven until capsicum is slightly browned on all sides.
Another way to enjoy capsicum is in sauces and dips. Roasting capsicum produces a rich, smooth textured vegetable that can be used in tomato sauce and dips like Muhammara. Muhammara is a roasted red pepper, walnut dip that is popular in Lebanon. This recipe is gluten-free and features a unique ingredient, pomegranate molasses which you can make yourself by boiling down pomegranate juice. You can use any type of capsicum you like except for green because it can be quite bitter.
This toasty, sweet and tangy dip is high in protein, antioxidants and fibre.
- 1 cup walnuts
- 3 large red capsicums (yellow or orange work too)
- ½ cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp mild chili flakes
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp paprika
- 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses (plus more for drizzling)
- Kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Toast walnuts on a baking sheet, halfway through baking, toss around and redistribute evenly.
- Bake until golden brown (about 8-10 minutes). Let it cool. Pick out a few walnuts for garnish, coarsely chop and set aside.
- Meanwhile, place the oven rack in the upper third of the oven, close to the element or broiler.
- Broil capsicum on a baking sheet, flipping over halfway through until skin is charred (12-15 minutes). Alternatively, you can char peppers over a gas burner on medium high.
- Transfer peppers to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap, or place in a plastic zip bag.
- Steam peppers for 10 minutes. Remove skins from peppers and discard seeds.
- Now, in a food processor, combine capsicum, gluten-free bread crumbs, oil, chili flakes, tahini, lemon juice, paprika, toasted walnuts and 2 tbsp of pomegranate molasses. Pour for a minute or so, then blend until smooth and season with salt.
- Transfer dip to a bowl and drizzle with pomegranate molasses and top with chopped walnuts. Serve with pita, veggies or bread.
Capsicum is a vegetable that comes in a wide array of colors and varieties and offers an impressive nutritional profile containing vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and compounds specific to capsicum like capsanthin and capsorubin. Some of the most prevalent nutrients found in capsicum are vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6 and folate. Red capsicums are one of the most vitamin C rich foods in the world. Just 100g gives you 213% of your daily recommended intake. If you are looking to lose weight, capsicum can be a great food to incorporate into your daily diet. Because the vegetable contains a high amount of fibre and water, it can aid weight loss and help boost metabolism. capsicum can easily be incorporated into daily meals. Try a stuffed capsicum, incorporate it into a delicious curry or simply eat it raw with hummus or guacamole.
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