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Bell pepper, also known as sweet pepper or a pepper (in the United Kingdom and Ireland) and capsicum (in India, Australia and New Zealand), is a cultivar group of the species Capsicum annuum. Cultivars of the plant produce fruits in different colors, including red, yellow, orange, chocolate brown, lilac, ivory, deep purple and green. Bell peppers are sometimes grouped with less pungent pepper varieties as "sweet peppers". Peppers are native to Mexico, Central America and northern South America. Pepper seeds were later carried to Spain in 1493 and from there spread to other European, African and Asian countries. Today, China is the world's largest pepper producer, followed by Mexico.
Ideal growing conditions for bell peppers include warm soil, ideally between 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit, that is kept moist but not waterlogged. Bell peppers are sensitive to an abundance of moisture and excessive temperatures.
The misleading name "pepper" 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, was 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, "chile", is of mexican origin, from the Nahuatl word chilli or xilli. Bell peppers are botanically fruits, but are generally considered in culinary contexts to be vegetables.
While the bell pepper is a member of the Capsicum genus, it is the only Capsicum that does not produce capsaicin, a lipophilic chemical that can cause a strong burning sensation when it comes in contact with mucous membranes. (An exception to this is the hybrid variety Mexibelle, which does contain a moderate level of capsaicin, and is therefore, somewhat hot). The lack of capsaicin in bell peppers is due to a recessive form of a gene that eliminates capsaicin and, consequently, the "hot" taste usually associated with the rest of the Capsicum genus.
The terms "bell pepper", "pepper" or in Australia and New Zealand "capsicum", are often used for any of the large bell shaped fruits, regardless of their color. In British English, the fruit is simply referred to as a "pepper", or additionally by color (as in the term "green pepper", for example), whereas in many Commonwealth of Nations countries, such as India, Canada, and Malaysia, they are called "bell peppers". Across Europe, the term "paprika", which has its roots in the word for pepper, is used—sometimes referred to by their color (e.g., "groene paprika", "gele paprika", in Dutch, which are green and yellow, respectively). Paprika also refers to the powdered spice made from the fruits in the Capsicum genus. In Switzerland it is mostly called "peperoni", which is the Italian name of the fruit. In France, it is called "poivron", with the same root as "poivre" (meaning "powder"), or "piment". In Japan it's called Piman, derived from the French "piment". In Korea, the word 피망 ("pimang" from the Japanese "Piman") refers to green bell peppers, whereas 파프리카 ("papurika" from paprika) refers to bell peppers of other colors.
The color can be green, red, yellow, orange and more rarely, brown, white, rainbow (between stages of ripening) lavender and dark purple, depending on the variety of pepper. Most typically, unripe fruit are green or, less commonly, pale yellow or purple. One variety, Permagreen, maintains its green color even when fully ripe. Red, yellow, and orange peppers all come from different seeds and are different cultivars of pepper. Red peppers are simply ripened green peppers. Green peppers are less sweet and slightly more bitter than yellow or orange peppers, with red bell peppers being the sweetest. The taste of ripe peppers can also vary with growing conditions and post-harvest storage treatment; the sweetest are fruit allowed to ripen fully on the plant in full sunshine, while fruit harvested green and after-ripened in storage are less sweet.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||84 kJ (20 kcal)|
|- Sugars||2.40 g|
|- Dietary fiber||1.7 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.||18 μg (2%)|
|Thiamine (vit. B1)||0.057 mg (5%)|
|Riboflavin (vit. B2)||0.028 mg (2%)|
|Niacin (vit. B3)||0.480 mg (3%)|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||0.099 mg (2%)|
|Vitamin B6||0.224 mg (17%)|
|Folate (vit. B9)||10 μg (3%)|
|Vitamin C||80.4 mg (97%)|
|Calcium||10 mg (1%)|
|Iron||0.34 mg (3%)|
|Magnesium||10 mg (3%)|
|Phosphorus||20 mg (3%)|
|Potassium||175 mg (4%)|
|Zinc||0.13 mg (1%)|
|Percentages are relative to|
US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Compared to green peppers, red peppers have more vitamins and nutrients and contain the antioxidant lycopene. The level of carotene, like lycopene, is nine times higher in red peppers. Red peppers have twice the vitamin C content of green peppers. Also, one large red bell pepper contains 209 mg of vitamin C, which is three times the 70 mg of an average orange.
|People's Republic of China||12,031,031||12,530,180||13,031,000||14,033,000|
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