[caption id="attachment_4400" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Bell pepper"][/caption]
Bell pepper is from the species of Capsicum annuum. It is also called as sweet pepper or chilli pepper. Bell pepper is produced in different colors like the red, yellow and orange. This is one of the vegetables from the nightshade (Solanaceae) family which includes eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes.
The bell pepper are consumed in its unripe form when the fruit is still green and is sometimes grouped with less pungent pepper variety as sweet peppers. In 1493 the pepper seeds were carried to Spain and from there spread to other European, African and Asian countries. Bell peppers are native to Mexico, Central America and northern South America. Today, Mexico is the major pepper producers in the world. Like many other foods native to this region, sweet peppers were carried throughout the world by the Spanish and Portuguese explorers who traveled through this continent.
The misleading name "pepper" (pimiento in Spanish) was given by Christopher Columbus upon bringing the plant back to Europe. At that time peppercorns, the fruit of Piper nigrum, an unrelated plant originating from India, were a highly prized condiment; the name "pepper" was at that time applied in Europe to all known spices with a hot and pungent taste and so naturally extended to the newly discovered Capsicum genus. The most commonly used alternative name of the plant family, "chili", is of Central American origin. Like their relatives, the chili peppers, bell peppers originated in South America with seeds of a wild variety dating back to 5000 BC.
Bell peppers are botanically fruits, but are generally considered in culinary contexts to be vegetables. When cut off, the top of the bell pepper is referred to as a "pepper pan”. Bell pepper being a member of the Capsicum genus is the only Capsicum that does not produce capsaicin. The term "bell pepper" or "pepper" or "capsicum" is often said for any of the large bell shaped capsicum fruits, regardless of their color. This vegetable is simply referred as pepper or called by the color of the vegetable for example green pepper.
Many commonwealth countries such as Australia, India, Malaysia and New Zealand call this vegetable as the capsicum and it is also known as paprika across Europe which had got its roots in the word for pepper. The bell pepper looks very ornamental since they are beautifully shaped, glossy in appearance and come in a variety of colors. The bell peppers or sweet peppers are plump, bell shaped having a distinct and unique taste and the inside of the vegetable is thick flesh is an inner cavity with edible bitter seeds and a white spongy core. The bell peppers have an excellent watery crunchy taste and the green pepper have a slightly bitter flavor while the red, orange and yellow are sweeter to taste.
Bell peppers are a very versatile vegetable and can be cooked with other vegetables and meat to make the dish flavorful and aromatic. A variety of dishes can be prepared with the bell peppers like masala capsicum, capsicum masala rice, stuffed capsicums, capsicum chutney and potatoes with crunchy bell peppers make this dish subtle yet tasty.
The bell peppers are a very good diet food and used in many salads. They are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are also an excellent source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6 and a good source of many mineral like the Potassium, Manganese, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate, Pantothenic Acid and Magnesium. Bell peppers are high in dietary fiber.
The nutritional value and health benefits of bell pepper make it ideal for maintaining optimum health and weight loss. Bell pepper is very high in vitamins which are well known for their antioxidant properties. This helps in reducing cardiovascular problems and they are high in carotene.
The nutritional values of 100g of raw green bell pepper are:
Energy: 65 kj