By Ebi Kesiena
Pepper has been grown and used for a long period of time and is part of human food culture. Globally pepper is known for its high nutritional value, health benefits and medicinal properties. It is reach (Rich) in vitamins and minerals, has antimicrobial and anticancer properties.
Chili pepper has preventive and therapeutic properties for many ailments such as different types of cancer, rheumatism, stiff joints, bronchitis and chest colds with cough and headache, arthritis, heart arrhythmias and many other ailments.
Pepper is the most widely used spice and condiment in the world and is greatly priced for its pungency and adding special flavor to many cuisines throughout the world. Historically it was used mainly for seasoning and as medicinal plant, but today its use extended to fresh and processed vegetable, spice, dried forms, used as food dye, bred as ornamental plant and production of extracts for various pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry.
Peppers are a major condiment used throughout the world. They belong in the family Solanaceae; the same family as the tomato which is also a major condiment. Pepper is known as capsicum annuum and it has a large number of varieties with varying morphologies which have been developed through breeding. In Nigeria, there is a wild shrubby species which is disseminated by birds in opened-up forest locations; they bear small bell-shaped fruits which are really hot.
I have also heard that pepper is effective against food poisoning.
To get healthy and to avoid food poisoning, we were taught to take more garlic and pepper as spice from our grandparents, too.
Capsicum is incredibly beneficial for eye health. The reason is because capsicums are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that can protect your retina from oxidative damage. Studies show that consuming foods that contain high amounts of carotenoids can protect your eyes from macular degeneration.
Orange capsicum has been found to cut prostate cancer growth rate by 75 per cent. Cancer patients who were given hot peppers in a research in the US had improved health conditions. The growth of cancer cells has significantly slowed down.
A 2017 animal study showed some anti-diabetic properties obtained from this plant, however, more than one component of this vegetable could have been the cause of the lower glucose levels in cases of Type 1 diabetes. Another study also recommends the screening of capsicum as a part of the dietary management of Type 2 diabetes.
Capsaicin is a well-known treatment for neuralgia, a condition in which pain comes from the nerve that lies close to the skin surface. The use of capsaicin can cause the relief of pain from many different conditions including arthritis, fibromyalgia, nerve pain and lower back pain. When applied directly to the skin, capsaicin lowers the amount of substance P, a chemical that helps transmit pain signals to the brain.
May reduce the likelihood of anaemia
A common condition especially among women and girls of reproductive age, anaemia is the result of a lack of oxygen in the blood. One of the commonest causes is iron deficiency. Peppers contribute modest amounts of iron but are remarkably rich in vitamin C, half a pepper supplying as much as 100mg. This is significant because vitamin C increases the absorption of iron in the gut and numerous studies confirm that diets high in vitamin C-rich fruit and vegetables results in a greater iron uptake. Bell peppers help further because they contain vitamin B6 which is needed to make haemoglobin, the protein which carries oxygen around the body.
Many studies show that the capsaicin in cayenne peppers helps reduce hunger. How it does this is not completely understood, but one study showed that it reduces the production of the hunger hormone, ghrelin.
Other benefits include, Good for weight loss, Relieves menopausal symptoms, Lowers blood cholesterol and levels of triglycerides, Fights the flu, colds and fungal infections, Prevents bad breath, Prevents allergies, Improves cognitive functions, Prevents anaemia, Reduces anxiety, Improves bone health, Boosts immunity, Improves cardiovascular health, Prevents cancer.
Remember, You are what you eat.