Bell pepper (also known as paprika, sweet pepper, pepper, or capsicum is the fruit of plants in the Grossum group of the species Capsicum annuum.
Peppers are native to Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. Pepper seeds were imported to Spain in 1493 and then spread through Europe and Asia. Cultivars of the plant produce fruits in different colors, including red, yellow, orange, green, white, chocolate, candy cane striped, and purple.
A raw red bell pepper is 94% water, 5% carbohydrates, 1% protein, and contains negligible fat. A 100 gram (3.5 oz) piece amount supplies 26 calories, and is a rich source of vitamin C, containing 158% of the Daily Value.
Bell peppers are also packed with vitamin A and beta carotene which can help boost the immune system, improve vision, and help protect the eyes against cataracts. A red bell pepper supplies twice the vitamin C and eight times the vitamin A content of a green bell pepper.
Bell peppers are also an excellent source of potassium, fiber, thiamine, beta carotene, folic acid, zeaxanthin, and lycopene and have been shown to help prevent blood clot formation and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
They are excellent for helping to lower cholesterol levels and they contain anti-cancer compounds that can help lower the risk of prostate, breast, lung, and colon cancer.
Bell peppers are highly beneficial for the brain and can help to strengthen memory and concentration skills as well as reduce brain fog and confusion.
Bell peppers are an ideal weight loss food as their fiber helps to curb the appetite while helping to keep you energized throughout the day.
Even though green peppers are edible, the red, orange, and yellow bell peppers contain significantly higher levels of vitamins, mineral, and antioxidants.
Bell peppers are so sweet, crunchy, and juicy that they are a perfect snack to munch on and are a fantastic addition to salads, wraps, nori rolls, hummus, and dips.
They are also great juiced, steamed, sauteed, and stuffed. Roast bell peppers on the grill.
Try making a raw soup by blending red bell peppers and tomatoes together with a clove of garlic, a few leaves of fresh basil, and chopped scallions and avocado on top.
It is a refreshing, light, nutrient packed meal that can nourish your body and keep your immune system functioning strong.
Also experiment with the deliciously sweet orange bell pepper which is a favorite among kids and adults alike.
Bell peppers can be found at your local farmers market, grocery and health food store. Choose organic for its health promoting properties whenever possible.
Start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before last spring frost date. The temperature must be at least 70 degrees F for seed germination, so keep them in a warm area for the best and fastest results.
Start pepper seeds three to a pot, and thin out the weakest seedling.
Let the remaining two pepper plants spend their entire lives together as one plant. The leaves of two plants help protect peppers against sun-scald, and the yield is often twice as good as two segregated plants.
Begin to harden off plants about 10 days before transplanting. A week before transplanting, introduce fertilizer or aged compost in your garden soil.
After the danger of frost has passed, transplant seedlings outdoors, 18 to 24 inches apart (but keep paired plants close to touching.)
Water one to two inches per week, but remember peppers are extremely heat sensitive. If you live in a warm or desert climate, watering everyday may be necessary.
Fertilize after the first fruit set. Weed carefully around plants. For larger fruit, spray the plants with a solution of one tablespoon of Epsom salts in a gallon of water, once when it begins to bloom, and once ten days later.
Harvest as soon as peppers reach desired size. The longer bell peppers stay on the plant, the more sweet they become and the greater their Vitamin C content.
Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut peppers clean off the plant for the least damage. Peppers can be refrigerated in plastic bags for up to 10 days after harvesting.
For more research: