8 Powerful Health Benefits Of Capsicum

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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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. They are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, among other nutrients.

What is Capsicum?

The terminology ‘capsicum’ can be confusing as it can be used to describe both, the fruits and the plants, of the Capsicum genus. So let’s make it simple. The word capsicum can mean:

  • Genus: Botanically, the Capsicum genus is one of the most important in the Solanaceae family, popularly known as the nightshade family. Some well-known nightshade vegetables include eggplants (brinjals), potatoes, and tomatoes.
  • Plant species: There are at least 36 known capsicum plant species, mainly from Bolivia, Peru, and Brazil. Some of the most famous ones are Capsicum Annuum, Capsicum Chinense, Capsicum Baccatum, Capsicum Frutescens, and Capsicum Pubescens.
  • Fruit: The fruits or berries of the Capsicum plant are varied in shape, color, size, and taste. The spicier versions are called chili peppers or chilis or just peppers in different parts of the world. The large mild green, yellow, or red bell peppers are called capsicum in India, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore.
Different types of bell peppers and capsicum on a wooden table

Large mild green, yellow, or red bell peppers are also called capsicum. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Some of the most popular Capsicum species are:

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, though? the answer is – capsaicin, a water-insoluble derivative of homovanillic acid, and also the major active ingredient in capsicum is responsible for the hot and burning sensation to the tongue.

With the varieties of chili peppers available, it is important to know that the capsaicin content of each type of chili pepper varies. 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.

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8 Health Benefits Of Capsicum | Organic Facts

Uses

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

With 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.

Additionally, it has been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of cough, toothache, sore throat, parasitic infections, and wound healing.

Nutrition Facts

Peppers, hot chili, green, raw
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]87.74
Energy [kcal]40
Energy [kJ]167
Protein [g]2
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.2
Ash [g]0.6
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]9.46
Fiber, total dietary [g]1.5
Sugars, total including NLEA [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
Copper, Cu [mg]0.17
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.24
Selenium, Se [µg]0.5
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]242.5
Thiamin [mg]0.09
Riboflavin [mg]0.09
Niacin [mg]0.95
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.06
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.28
Folate, total [µg]23
Folate, food [µg]23
Folate, DFE [µg]23
Choline, total [mg]11.1
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]59
Carotene, beta [µg]671
Carotene, alpha [µg]23
Cryptoxanthin, beta [µg]50
Vitamin A, IU [IU]1179
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]725
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.69
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]14.3
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.02
14:0 [g]0
16:0 [g]0.02
18:0 [g]0
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.01
18:1 [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.11
18:2 [g]0.1
18:3 [g]0.01
Tryptophan [g]0.03
Threonine [g]0.07
Isoleucine [g]0.07
Leucine [g]0.11
Lysine [g]0.09
Methionine [g]0.02
Cystine [g]0.04
Phenylalanine [g]0.06
Tyrosine [g]0.04
Valine [g]0.08
Arginine [g]0.1
Histidine [g]0.04
Alanine [g]0.08
Aspartic acid [g]0.29
Glutamic acid [g]0.26
Glycine [g]0.07
Proline [g]0.09
Serine [g]0.08
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. The chili, harvested when red rather than orange or yellow, has 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 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. 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.

Forms Mucilage

Capsicum contains tannins. Tannins are astringent and are often considered for their benefits when treating gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, dysentery, and other microbial disorders. Gastric mucilage acts to protect the gastric lining and prevent related diseases. Studies suggest that it acts as a mucilage by increasing the production of gastric mucus and can help treat peptic ulcer disease.

Improves Cardiovascular Health

Studies on flavonoids have suggested that it may be beneficial towards preventing coronary heart disease. A 2017 research report published in the PLOS One journal found that people who regularly eat hot red chili peppers had a lower mortality risk (almost 13 percent), compared to those who did not. This was mainly due to the preventive effect of obesity and cardiovascular diseases.

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 showed some antidiabetic properties obtained from this plant, however, more than one component of this vegetable could have been the cause of the 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.

Health benefits of capsicum infographic

Capsicum comes in dried form, as a spice as chili pepper and paprika.

Boosts Immunity

Capsicum contains vitamin C, which is valued as immune-supportive bioactive phytochemicals. It helps in strengthening the immune system, repairing damaged tissues, and lowering the risk of oxidative stress. Research also reveals that different capsicum species may have antimicrobial properties – the extracts have been found to be effective against Helicobacter pylori and Listeria monocytogenes.

Skin Care

Vitamins in chili peppers are shown to have an antioxidant effect on cell tissues, which may improve skin health and prevent aging. As mentioned, be sure to avoid contact with eyes or other exposed mucous membranes.

Relieves Menopausal Symptoms

It is thought in folk medicine that menopausal symptoms may be relieved by the consumption of flavonoid-containing fruits such as chili. While there isn’t much research surrounding this, it anecdotally works for some women.

Word of caution: 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.

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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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