Peppers come in many different varieties. Bell peppers are sweet and subtle, and are commonly red, yellow, and green. Less common white, purple, and brown varieties are also available.
Chili peppers add spice and color to dishes from every part of the world. They have been a part of our diets since 7500 BC, and archaeological evidence suggests that human beings have been cultivating them for more than 6000 years.
Both chili peppers and sweet peppers are from the genus capsicum, and like tomatoes and eggplants, they are members of the nightshade family. They became known as peppers because their spicy flavor reminded Christopher Columbus of the black and white peppers grown in his homeland. His physician brought specimens of the peppers encountered during his sophomore voyage back to Europe, from what was then known as the “New World.”
Members of the capsicum genus gained favor among Spanish and Portuguese monks at a time when black and white peppercorns were far too costly for many people to afford. The European medical community also took note of these novel fruits, writing about their potential medicinal properties soon after their arrival.
As it turns out, those physicians of yesteryear had the right idea. Peppers actually do have many health benefits and medicinal uses.
Peppers are full of vitamins A and C, both antioxidants which contribute to slower aging, reduced arthritis risk and better overall health. What’s more, these substances are known to prevent cancer and slow the development of cardiovascular disease.
Fat Burning Power
You may have heard that peppers help you burn fat by boosting your body’s metabolism. It’s true, and it’s due to the fact that they contain capsaicin. This chemical compound is what makes peppers so spicy. But, if you’re not into spicy food, don’t worry; sweet peppers contain a similar compound that offers the same fat-burning benefits without the 4-alarm mouth fire.
Plenty of Carotenoids
These chemicals give carrots and yams their distinctive coloring, but they are also abundant in peppers. They boost your immune system, prevent certain types of cancers, and help keep skin healthy and vibrant.
There is research that indicates that a diet featuring peppers may help ward of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other neurological diseases. So, buck up, Grandpa! Finish your peppers!
Want to keep those baby blues in excellent shape? Stop staring at your computer screen and go out and do something. And, while you’re out, eat some peppers. It turns out that they may even help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, an irreversible condition that causes blindness.
[Photo Credit: sheknows]