11 Impressive Benefits of Capsicum

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated -

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The health benefits of capsicum include relief from stomach issues, back pain, muscle spasms, headaches, skin aging, peptic ulcers, menopausal problems, lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes management. It has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, and may also provide relief from pain related to arthritis. Capsicum also helps with fibromyalgia and psoriasis.

What is Capsicum?

An ancestral spice, capsicum (peppers) is a diverse and pungent edible fruit from any of the varieties within the Capsicum genus. With the known popular use of capsicum, multiculturally, and for generations around the globe, interest is developing in knowing about the medicinal benefits of this natural plant food and culinary spice.

Many people are familiar with the use of chili peppers in the preparation of spicy meals. What is it that makes the chili pepper spicy? The answer is capsaicin, an odorless, tasteless phytochemical, which produces the chili pepper’s heat.

With the varieties of chili peppers available, it is important to know that the capsaicin content of each type of chili pepper varies and it is possible to get less heat and still receive the health benefits of the chili peppers’ active ingredient capsaicin. Capsaicin is found in the fleshy membrane of both sweet and hot peppers and higher concentration in the seeds. This natural fruit may be used fresh or dried as a culinary spice, added to teas or taken in capsules to reap its medicinal benefits.

Watch Video: 8 Health Benefits Of Capsicum


Nutrition Facts

Peppers, hot chili, green, raw
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]87.74
Energy [kcal]40
Protein [g]2
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.2
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]9.46
Fiber, total dietary [g]1.5
Sugars, total [g]5.1
Calcium, Ca [mg]18
Iron, Fe [mg]1.2
Magnesium, Mg [mg]25
Phosphorus, P [mg]46
Potassium, K [mg]340
Sodium, Na [mg]7
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.3
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]242.5
Thiamin [mg]0.09
Riboflavin [mg]0.09
Niacin [mg]0.95
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.28
Folate, DFE [µg]23
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]59
Vitamin A, IU [IU]1179
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.69
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]14.3
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.11
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Capsicum Nutrition Facts

Using whole chili peppers from the Capsicum genus provides nutritional value, including high amounts of vitamin C and vitamin A. These vitamins are best obtained from the fresh fruit. Capsicum chili harvested when red rather than orange or yellow have higher concentrations of these beneficial nutrients. Other beneficial bioactive components of the chili are the content of flavonoids. Alkaloids and tannins are some of the other important bioactive compounds contained in it. Alkaloids work as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antioxidant agents.

Health Benefits of Capsicum

Adding capsicum to your daily diet may provide great health benefits against many ailments. Let us look at the benefits in detail.

Anti-inflammatory Agent

The phytochemical constituents of capsicum are shown to produce an anti-inflammatory response that alleviates peripheral neurogenic pain related to Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory disease of the bowels. Another example of peripheral neurogenic inflammation is a cutaneous pain of the skin. Its creams and balms are often massaged topically onto the skin with care taken to avoid open areas and mucous membranes. The burning effect of this vegetable is felt when applied to the skin, which is caused by an inflammatory response of the peripheral nerve endings. But regular application deadens the sensory nerve endings and relieves chronic diabetic neurogenic pain. Some suggest that the anti-inflammatory effect of capsicum may also help alleviate pain related to arthritis. Its cream may be utilized as an option for treating this malady and many others.

Different types of bell peppers (red and yellow) and capsicum on a wooden table

Forms Mucilage

Capsicum contains tannins. Tannins are astringent and are often considered for their benefits when treating gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea, dysentery, and other microbial disorders. Gastric mucilage acts to protect the gastric lining and prevent peptic ulcer development. Studies suggest that it acts as a mucilage by increasing the production of gastric mucus and help treat peptic ulcer disease. Intake of capsicum may increase the nasal drainage due to the presence of phytochemical capsaicin.

Also, for this reason, it is beneficial to avoid touching the eyes or bodily mucous membranes during the preparation of peppers. Also, wash your hands thoroughly after preparation to avoid transferring volatile oils containing capsicum to these sensitive areas.

Anticancer Potential

A research study published in Anticancer Research 2016 stated that capsaicin, an active component of capsicum, has shown to change the genetic expression related to cancer cell survival, growth arrest, and metastasis. However, there are conflicting data about whether capsaicin aids in the prevention of cancer, as reported by the American Association for Cancer Research. More studies, especially involving human testing, is required to be sure of its anti-cancer potential.

Improves Heart Health

Studies on flavonoids have suggested that they are beneficial towards preventing coronary heart disease. Capsicum is both warming and vasodilative. A suggested effect of the vasodilative properties of this vegetable is the improvement of hypotension and decreased heart rate. Vasodilatation allows for improved blood flow resulting in better oxygenation of organ tissues. This is most likely due to the tachykinins, a known bioactive ingredient in this vegetable.

Antioxidant Agent

Many of the bioactive compounds of capsicum provide antioxidant effects. Improved vasodilatation allows for these antioxidant phytochemicals to circulate throughout the body. This allows it to protect and repair tissues and DNA damage.

Diabetes Management

Capsicum, like other chilies, is a source of capsaicin. It is known to have a positive effect on obesity and diabetes. A 2017 animal study supports the antidiabetic properties but concluding that more than one components of this vegetable can lead to lower glucose levels in cases of type 1 diabetes. Another study also recommends the screening of capsicum as a part of the dietary management of type 2 diabetes and associated comorbidities.

Boosts Immunity

Capsicum contains vitamin C, which is valued as immune-supportive bioactive phytochemicals. It helps in strengthening the immune system, repairing damaged brain tissues, and lowering the risk of oxidative stress, pediatric asthma, and cancer. It also improves bone health.

Treats Fibromyalgia

Many clinical trials show the effectiveness of capsicum for treating symptoms of fibromyalgia when applied topically. Those using it topically stated beneficial effects on the improvement of sleep.

Skin Care

Vitamins in the capsicum chili pepper are shown to have an antioxidant effect on cell tissues, which may improve skin health and prevent aging.

Relieves Menopausal Symptoms

Menopausal symptoms may also be relieved by the consumption of flavonoid-containing fruits such as capsicum chili.

Uses

Capsicum comes in dried form, as a spice as chili pepper and paprika. The dried spice is used in many sauces or added to beverages such as tea. The dried variety is available as whole dried peppers, as a single spice or in dried spice blends.

As a more concentrated medicine, it may be placed in a capsule for oral ingestion as a nutraceutical or applied topically to the skin as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory cream.

With capsicum chili’s ready availability in many markets, it should be considered that though the dried spice is convenient and effective in its health benefits, eating it fresh provides more benefits.

Summary

As studies show, it is beneficial as a daily health supplement. It is enjoyed by many as a daily food additive in cooking. Culinary preparation of the capsicum peppers may provide enough protection when eaten daily to have beneficial effects on certain chronic and potentially degenerative health conditions. The bioactive components of capsicum work together to improve blood flow, an analgesic, protect the gastric mucosa, and provide nutrients for a healthy lifestyle. 

Though, all chili peppers contain both vitamins and other beneficial bioactive components. Yet, the color of the pepper determines the stage of growth when harvested. It also determines the concentration of vitamins and other beneficial phytochemicals. Overall, it can be said that whether consumed dried or fresh, capsicum chili is a medicine and is beneficial to use in an everyday diet as both, a natural preventive and treatment for many chronic conditions.

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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