Eat it in raw or cooked form, as pizza topping or in the form of salad dressing, capsicum always delights you with its vibrant colours of green, yellow, orange and red. Such is its taste value that it can make any boring recipe interesting and sumptuous in a jiffy.
Known by various names – Bell Peppers in US and Canada, Chilli Peppers in Britain, Paprika (dry and powdered version) in some countries, Capsicum in Australia and Asia, the biological name of this veggie is Cayenne and Jalapeno. Whatever the name, capsicum is a versatile vegetable that looks pretty cool and colourful on the dining table, whether consumed in the form of main menu, side dish or salad.
Capsicum is not a new breed of vegetable but one that has been around for thousands of years. It was none other than Christopher Columbus who picked capsicums from West Indies in the year 1492 and took them to Spain. Today India is one of the few countries that has emerged as a leading producer of capsicum.
With growing levels of diabetes and obesity in Indians due to lifestyle changes, scientists at the
CSIR- Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) have deeply researched the impact of red, green, yellow bell peppers for their anti-hyperglycaemic and anti-hyperlipidemic effect. The results have been positive. In fact, the Senior Principal Scientist, Dr. Ashok Kumar Tiwari recommends eating red and yellow capsicum in raw form (as a salad) before starting to eat the main course.
Though it is available round the year, the best season to pick a capsicum is summers to early fall. It’s not the colour alone that impresses. Capsicum wows everyone with health benefits too. So get ready to welcome capsicum as your best health buddy and you will love every bite of it.
Nutritional Value of Capsicum
This colourful and tasty vegetable is ideal as a daily health supplement and is rich in several nutritional aspects:
The interesting thing about capsicum is that it has about 30 different kinds of carotenoids providing you tremendous antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Health Advantages of Capsicum
- Calorie Burning
Whenever you eat capsicum in any form, you can be assured of its calorie fighting properties. Capsicum helps reduce weight and stimulates digestion by secreting the required digestive juices.
A cup of capsicum has only 23 calories which makes it good for your weight loss regimen. You can pack slices of capsicum in your breads, sandwiches, cutlets and rolls or include it in rice, dals, soups, and umpteen other items.
- Prevents Cancer
Capsaicin, the compound found in capsicum stops the cancer-causing carcinogens to bind with your molecular DNA. This helps tremendously in fighting cancer. Even the sulfur content found in capsicum protects you from certain types of cancers. So make it a point to eat capsicum either regularly, weekly or on alternate days depending on your preference and availability of this vegetable.
- Skin and Eyes
Want to have a glowing skin free from blemishes? Then start having capsicum. This colourful veggie not only prevents pimples and rashes owing to the vitamin E in it, it also has vitamin A that helps in keeping eye diseases at bay.
- Hair Growth
You will be surprised to know that capsicum extract tremendously boosts your hair growth. Not only does eating capsicum stop your hair fall, it also gives you the benefit of long lustrous and thick hair locks. However, keep in mind that capsicum is ‘burning’ in nature, so whenever you use it for your hair, do it carefully.
- Pain Reliever
Once again it is the capsaicin that plays a vital role in treating pain that happens due to migraines, arthritis and muscular cramps. In case you are suffering from pain due to herpes or post-operative trauma due to limb amputation, capsicum provides you the much-needed relief. And it is able to reduce the pain well since it blocks the pain transfer from skin to your spinal cord.
- Immunity booster
Being rich in vitamin C, capsicum empowers and stimulates the white blood cells in your body to fight infection and strengthen your immunity system. Apart from vitamin C, flavonoids in the capsicum keep common to acute respiratory problems such as lung infections, asthma, wheezing at bay.
- Best Antioxidant
Capsicum is blessed with vitamin A and C. These are known for their antioxidant properties that help in fighting free radicals in your body and tough ailments such as osteoarthritis, cataract, heart diseases, bronchial asthma, etc.
- Medicine Formulation
Such is the depth and diversity of capsicum that it is used in medicines to treat lifestyle-related problematic ailments such as alcoholism, bowel movements, even motion sickness and menstrual cramps. In cases of pain, you can also apply capsicum topically to bring you the much-needed relief.
Selection and Storage Techniques of Capsicum
Though capsicum comes in multiple colours, while buying it make sure they are blemish free and free of spots. They should also be heavy and firm, not the ones that give in to little pressure.
Do pay a bit of attention to the ripeness of capsicum. They shouldn’t be too ripe that they get wrinkly. Also don’t get carried away by the colour of the capsicum. What is more relevant is the colour quality of a capsicum and its overall feel and texture.
Recipe for Bharwan Simla Mirch
You can see how a bit of capsicum can put a new wave of energy into your cooking. Plus the health benefits bring more joy into your life. Include capsicum in your daily diet and rejuvenate your body.