The beautiful combination of strong flavor and crunchy texture of bell peppers makes them the Christmas ornaments of the vegetable world with its smooth and beautiful exterior, colored in green, red, yellow, orange, purple, brown or black. Although available all year round, they are best to eat during August and September.
Despite variations in color, all sweet peppers are known as Capsicum annuum, and are part of the family dog grapes to which potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants belong.
Like their hot counterparts - chilies, peppers originated from South America, where their seeds date back to 5000 BC, because they are highly adaptive and the plant grows in different climates, their cultivation and their use in various cuisines was quickly promoted. Today, the main producers of sweet peppers are China, Turkey, Spain, Romania, Nigeria and Mexico.
Sweet bell peppers are rounded, bell-shaped vegetables, divided into three or four parts. Their thick flesh is edible, but the bitter seeds and white spongy central part are not. Sweet bell peppers are not hot because they contain a recessive gene that eliminates capsaicin - the compound responsible for the hotness of other peppers.
Composition of bell peppers
Sweet bell peppers contain vitamin A, C, B1, B2, E, PP, carotene and fiber. Sweet bell peppers are low in fat and rich in water.
Selecting and storing bell peppers
• Choose bell peppers that have bright colors and taut skin, free of spots or discoloration.
• The handles should be green and look fresh.
• Sweet bell peppers should be heavy for their size and hard enough.
• The shape does not affect the quality, choose them according to how you use them.
• Sweet bell peppers are the most delicious in summer.
• Unwashed bells can be stored in the refrigerator up to one week.
• If you freeze them, it is better to freeze them whole, so as not to disturb their nutrient content and taste.
Cooking bell peppers
• Add chopped bell peppers to chicken or tuna salad.
• Blanch small pods and fill them with your favorite salad with rice and bake them in the oven.
• Blend baked and peeled bell peppers, add onion and zucchini and make a lovely refreshing soup that can be eaten hot or cold.
Sweet bell peppers are widely used in the preparation of various pickles for the winter. Use fresh in salads and various meat and vegetable dishes. Marinated bell peppers are delicious.
Benefits of bell peppers
• Provides protection from free radicals. Brightly colored bell peppers, whether green, red or yellow, are rich sources of some of the best nutrients. They are concentrated withy vitamin C and vitamin A, which work together, neutralizing free radicals that damage our cells.
• Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Sweet bell peppers contain vitamin B6 and folic acid, which are very effective in reducing the high levels of homocysteine, this causes damage to blood vessels, which is associated with greatly increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
• Reduces the risk of cancer. Red bell peppers are one of the few foods that contain lycopene, whose intake is associated with reduced risk of prostate cancer, cervix, bladder and pancreas.
• Contribute to the health of our lungs. If you or someone you love is a smoker, eating foods rich in vitamin A (such as Sweet bell peppers), as part of a healthy diet can save your life. Benzopirine in cigarette smoke leads to a deficiency of vitamin A, but with this vitamin enriched diet can help combat this effect, thus reducing the risk of emphysema.
• Protect our vision. Due to the presence of vitamin C and beta carotene, they protect us against cataracts.
• Protect from rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin C-rich foods, such as sweet and hot peppers, give us protection against inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis and include one or more joints.