red and yellow bell peppers in brown woven basket
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Capsicum, with the scientific name Capsicum annuum, is a member of the Solanaceae family. Capsicums are known as bell peppers in America, shimla mirch in India, and peppers in the United Kingdom. Capsicums originated from northern Latin America and Mexico and are available in various colours ranging from green, red, yellow and orange. These varieties are not only delicious when eaten as a topping on a pizza or cooked as a veggie, but they are also very healthy. Let us find some interesting benefits of this vegetable.

Nutritional Value of Capsicum: 

Capsicum contains various nutritional components that are given in the table below. It is rich in a variety of phytochemicals like vitamins, anthocyanins, flavonoids, phenolic acid, capsaicinoids and carotenoids.

Nutritional components Value per 100g
Energy (Kcal/K) 26/111
Total carbohydrate 6.03 g
Dietary fibre 2.1 g
Protein 0.99 g
Total fat 0.30 g
Calcium 7 mg
Magnesium 12 mg
Phosphorus 26 mg
Potassium 718 mg
Sodium 4 mg
Vitamin C 127.7 mg
Niacin 0.9 mg
Pyridoxine 0.29 mg
Vitamin A 3131 IU
Vitamin K 4.9 micrograms
Vitamin E 1.58 mg

Properties of Capsicum: 

Literature has shown capsicum to have numerous properties as those mentioned below:

  • It can act as an antioxidant.
  • It may show antifungal properties.
  • It may show anti-inflammatory properties.
  • It can be an antidiabetic agent.
  • It might have anticancer action.
  • It can act as a potential analgesic.
  • It may be neuroprotective.
  • It may also have an antibacterial action.
  • It might have immunosuppressive properties.
  • It might also have an immunostimulant action.

Potential Uses of Capsicum for Overall Health: 

Some of the potential benefits of capsicum are described as follows:

1. Potential uses of capsicum for dyslipidemia

Dyslipidemia is characterised by a reduction in good cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and an increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL), total cholesterol and triglycerides. Studies have shown that red capsicum and one of its important constituents, capsaicin, may potentially control the altered parameters in dyslipidemia. Zafar et al. conducted a study in 2012 on male rats to assess the effect of an aqueous extract of red pepper on the lipid profile. Rats that were administered an aqueous extract of red pepper (200mg/kg) showed a reduction in total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and triglycerides and an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL). This may indicate that the consumption of capsicum may help in managing dyslipidemia. However, more studies on humans are needed to support these claims.

2. Potential uses of capsicum for managing blood glucose

Capsicum contains phytochemicals like capsaicin and capsiate (capsaicin analogue), which may exhibit a hypoglycaemic effect (reduction in blood glucose). Sanati et al. conducted a study in 2017 to assess the effect of capsaicin on blood glucose in rats with Type-I DM. The rats were administered 6mg/kg capsaicin and capsiate for 28 days. The study results showed that capsaicin and capsiate might help reduce blood glucose. This may indicate that the consumption of capsicum may help manage blood glucose. However, more studies are needed to confirm these results in humans.

3. Potential uses of capsicum for improving metabolism

Capsicum has a high amount of capsaicinoids, which may help improve metabolism. Capsaicinoids are known to stimulate vasodilatation (increased blood flow) which increases thermogenesis (heat production). An increase in thermogenesis increases the rate of metabolism. This may indicate that the consumption of capsicum may help in improving metabolism. However, more studies are needed to support these claims.

4. Potential uses of capsicum for cancer

Capsaicin is a bioactive phytochemical which is abundant in capsicum. A literature review by Chapa et al. conducted in 2016 states that capsaicin can alter the gene expression in various stages of cancer cell survival, angiogenesis and metastasis. Therefore, there is a certainty that the consumption of capsicum may help manage cancers, but we need more human studies to support these claims.6

5. Potential uses of capsicum for wound healing 

Capsicum contains phytochemicals like capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin, traditionally used for wound healing. However, scientific evidence for this is limited. Ekom et al. conducted a study in rats in 2021 to assess the antibacterial potential of capsicum extract as a support to wound healing process. The results of this study claimed the use of capsicum as an antibacterial ingredient. However, more studies are needed to confirm these claims in humans.7

6. Potential uses of capsicum for boosting immunity

Capsicum is rich in Vitamin C, a biologically active phytochemical that can help strengthen the immune system. It may be possible that regular intake of capsicum may help boost immunity. However, scientific evidence supporting these claims is limited. Therefore, more studies are needed to support these claims in humans.1

7. Potential uses of capsicum for anxiety

Capsicum is a good source of Vitamin B6 and magnesium, both of which play an important role in maintaining the normal function of the nervous system. Thus, this can relieve anxiety and manage panic attacks. Additionally, magnesium in capsicum may help relieve muscle tension caused by anxiety. This indicates that the consumption of capsicum might positively impact anxiety. However, scientific evidence to support these claims is insufficient, and more studies are needed to support these claims in humans.1

8. Other potential uses of capsicum:

  • Due to its anti-inflammatory effects, it may help in alleviating Crohn’s disease and arthritis.
  • It may help relieve the pain and soreness associated with yellow fever.
  • It may help manage dysentery and diarrhoea.
  • It may help strengthen the immune system.
  • It may provide relief from stress.
  • It may help fight against cataracts.
  • It may help boost metabolism.1
  • It may help manage increased body fat and thus may find use in managing obesity.5

So with many Health Benefits, Studies have found that Capsicum can be nasty in that they have some serious side-effects as well

Side Effects of Capsicum: 

A few side effects related to the consumption of capsicum include:

  • Increased tendency of allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.
  • Eating capsicum in excess can result in stomach pain and gastric irritation.
  • Abnormal amount of sweating and runny nose.

However, if you experience any adverse reactions to capsicum, immediately contact a doctor or your Ayurvedic physician who has prescribed it to you. They will be able to guide you appropriately for your symptoms.

Precautions to take with capsicum: 

Like every other fruit and vegetable, intake of capsicum is okay in moderate amounts. However, general precautions must be followed while consuming capsicum, most important of which are:

  • Excess consumption of capsicum may enhance allergies in sensitive individuals.
  • When consuming capsicums, be careful if you have a tendency of stomach discomforts.
  • It is advised to wash capsicum thoroughly before use, to avoid any infections.9

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

There is a lack of data regarding the interaction of capsicum with other drugs. However, you must always seek the advice of your Ayurvedic physician about the possible interaction of capsicum with other drugs, and follow the prescription thoroughly, as they will know your health condition and other medications you are taking.

 

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