Peppers, the summer vegetable par excellence

Peppers, the summer vegetable par excellence

Peppers are the summer vegetable par excellence and they start producing from June until the end of September. They stop fruiting just when the temperature begins to drop, while in other countries where the climate is warmer, peppers are also productive all year round.

Peppers are the fruits of the Capsicum annuum plant belonging to the Solanaceae family such as tomatoes, aubergines and potatoes.

All of these vegetables originate from Central and North America and only with the arrival of Christopher Columbus the peppers spread throughout Europe reaching the country where they found a suitable climate for them.

These early peppers were very similar to chillies, small elongated and spicy but with the passage of time and the selection of farmers and nature currently the peppers are larger and no longer spicy.

We currently have many varieties of peppers in the country also recognized as typical products and IGP both in the lands of the North and the country and in the South and the country.


Characteristics of the pepper

The pepper plant grows as a shrubby herbaceous plant with an erect and slightly woody stem, the branches develop laterally and the pepper plant has a slight down. Its leaves are green and shiny while the flowers are white in color and are born right at the leaf axil. From the flowers we will then have the ripening of the fruits which are edible berries, these are the real peppers, the ones we use in the kitchen.

The shape of the pepper differs according to the variety and it is usually rounded, crooked or elongated. The color also varies according to the type of pepper and so we find yellow, green and red peppers. Red peppers are crunchy in the flesh and sweet in flavor, while yellow peppers are more tender.

However, peppers vary in color also according to the degree of ripeness in fact they all start in green and gradually turn towards yellow or red.

Their sweet taste and richness of nutrients including vitamins such as vitamin C are at the apex when the pepper is fully ripe. Green peppers are in fact more used for preservation in jars while yellow and red peppers are more used in cooking for raw or cooked recipes.

These pepper plants are produced from sowing seeds in winter but are protected in heated seedbeds to then be transplanted in the open field from late spring. The ripening and harvesting period begins in June and continues until September with the end of the summer.


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Composition of peppers

Peppers are rich in water up to over 90% and this already indicates that they are vegetables suitable for summer consumption when the body needs plenty of fluids for hydration.

The calories in pepper are very low around 45 calories per 100 gr and therefore they are great for those who want to keep the line.

The pepper is rich in vitamins and in particular beta-carotenes which are the precursors of vitamin A and is also an excellent source of ascorbic acid. Beta-carotenes are natural pigments that give the skin and pulp a yellow or orange color.

These beta-carotenes help protect the skin and mucous membranes of the body and they are even useful for cancer prevention. Red pepper is the richest in beta-carotenes.

In addition, peppers are rich in vitamin C and a portion of 50 grams covers 75% of the recommended daily allowance. However, we must remember that vitamin C is thermolabile so it is recommended to eat raw peppers because cooking eliminates over 60% of this vitamin. The ascorbic acid present in our diet helps to keep the skin and the body young as well as supporting the activity of our immune system.

Peppers are also rich in vitamin E always useful for the skin and hair, of lutein that protects from the sun and fortifies the eyes and also B vitamins such as B6 which is important for cell regeneration and for the nervous system so much so that it also acts by reducing states of anxiety.

The peculiarity of peppers is the presence of an active ingredient called capsicin. This substance is also present in hot peppers and in fact is responsible for this spicy taste. In addition, however, capsicin also has many other properties such as the rubefacient effect that helps to draw blood and therefore is indicated in case of ailments such as contractures, muscle blocks or other situations in which it is necessary to activate the superficial blood microcirculation.

Another of its properties is that of reducing cholesterol rebalancing the triglycerides in the circulation.
Finally, peppers have dietary fiber useful for helping good intestinal transit.

Furthermore, the vegetable fibers have a high satiating power which makes the pepper always suitable for those who want to do a good "swimsuit test" and are also slightly laxative because they attract water and facilitate evacuation.


Tips for eating peppers in the summer

For some people, peppers are not very digestible but perhaps not everyone knows how it is advisable to eat them. In fact, inside peppers we have capsicin, solanine and part of the cellulose fiber which are actually not very digestible.

However, these substances are found in the seeds, peel and placenta of the pepper so if we avoid these parts the digestion of this vegetable will be much easier.

Another precaution is how to cut the pepper: it is preferable to do it horizontally because the vertical side has the lines of strength of the fiber.

Therefore, cutting the fiber will allow our stomach and intestines to work less and thus digest the pepper more easily.

The last tip is the choice of the color of the pepper because the red or yellow and ripe ones contain less solanine than the green ones.


Photo: payphoto / 123RF Stock Photo


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