Pepper – Properties and health benefits / medicinal uses

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In this article, we will be looking at the properties and health benefits / medicinal uses of pepper.

Botanical name: Capsicum annuum L.
Other names: Green pepper, Paprika, Sweet pepper, Bell pepper, sweet bell pepper.

Pepper is the fruit of the pepper plant, Capsicum annuum L., a herbaceous plant of the botanical family Solanaceae which reaches a height of about 60 cm. The fruit varies in color from green to red or even orange.

pepper-medicinal-uses
Properties of pepper
The contents of pepper are divided into the nutritive and non-nutritive components.

Nutritive component
The nutritive component contains:
• Carbohydrates which are present in pepper in about 4.43% of its total content.
• Virtually no fat.
• Proteins in little amounts, just about 0.89% of its total content.
• Vitamins in significant amounts, such as vitamin E, provitamin A, vitamin C and B group vitamins. Among all these vitamins, provitamin A and vitamin C stand out in pepper. Pepper provides Provitamin A (beta-carotene) in more than half of the daily requirement of this vitamin. It also provides another carotenoid known as lycopene. This carotenoid is also present in tomato, as a potent antioxidant, it helps protect against the cancerous degeneration of cells.
The vitamin C in red pepper is almost four times as much as in lemons or orange. Just a hundred gram of pepper provides more than triple the daily requirement for this vitamin.

Non-nutritive components

• Vegetable fiber – Pepper contains vegetable fiber in about 2% of its total content. The presence of this fiber, together with capsaicin, contributes to their laxative effect.

• Capsaicin – This substance is responsible for making red pepper hot to taste. Sweet pepper contains only about 0.1% of this substance, but hot pepper contains about 1% of capsaicin which makes its hotter. Capsaicin in low quantity as found in sweet pepper helps serve as an aperitif and stimulates digestion, unlike when it is in high quantity which can irritate the mucosa and skin.

• Flavonoids – These are found in significant quantities in pepper as potent anti-inflammatory antioxidants which help protect the circulatory system.

Health benefits / medicinal uses of pepper

The medicinal values of pepper are numerous, below are some of its medicinal uses:

Constipation
Pepper have been long ago known to stop constipation. This is due to their fiber content, as well as the presence of a substance known as capsaicin. They make pepper to act as a mild laxative and also an anti-flatulent.

Stomach disorders
The regular consumption of pepper can help get rid of certain stomach disorders. It is considered beneficial for those suffering from dyspepsia (indigestion) caused by digestive atonia or scanty digestive juices due to pepper working as an aperitif by stimulating the flow of gastric juice and reducing inflammation.

Digestive system cancer
The regular consumption of pepper helps prevent cancer, especially that of the digestive tract. This is due to their richness in antioxidant vitamins ,Vitamin A and C, which helps protect the cells from the mutagenic action of carcinogens (substances that cause cancer).

• Taking a look at the contents of pepper, we can see that it will be suitable for certain people. The inclusion of pepper in the diet of the following can be considered:
» The diabetics, since they contain very little amount of carbohydrates.
» The obese, since they contain virtually no calories.

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