A new world crop, Capsicum (Shimla Mirch), has become a staple vegetable world over for its unique taste, flavour, culinary usage and possible health benefits. Though there are multiple lines of evidence for its origin, most agree capsicum was first domesticated in the South Americas. In India, Shimla Mirch ‘Chilli’ was bough in by the British who probably grew it in the hills of Simla region of Greater Punjab (Himachal Pradesh now), hence the name.
Capsicum is also known as Bell peppers, sweet pepper or Shimla mirch is peppers of less pungent varieties. They are available in various colours such as orange, yellow, green, red, and purple. The green and purple capsicums are mildly bitter whereas the yellow, red, and orange capsicums are somewhat sweet in taste.
Nutritional Facts of Capsicum
Bell peppers are rich in vitamin A, C and K. Red bell peppers contain carotenoids like lycopene and beta-cryptoxanthin.
As per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, 100 gm of green bell peppers contains 20 kcal, 2.4 gm of sugar, 0.86 gm of proteins, 1.7 gm of fiber, 4.6 gm of carbohydrates, 0.17 gm of fats, 18 μg of vitamin A, 208 μg of beta carotene, 341 μg of lutein and zeaxanthin, 0.48 mg of niacin, 10 μg of folates, 80.4 mg of vitamin C, 0.37 mg of vitamin E, 7.4 μg of vitamin K, 10 mg of calcium, 0.34 mg of iron, 175 mg of potassium, 10 mg of magnesium, 20 mg of phosphorus, 3 mg of sodium, and 0.13 mg of zinc.
Potential Health Benefits of Capsicum (Shimla Mirch)
1/5. Beneficial for eyes
1. The high content of vitamin A in red bell peppers aids support healthy eyesight, particularly night vision.
2. The rich content of lutein reduces the risk of macular degeneration of the eyes.
3. The high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin C in bell peppers protect the eyes from cataracts.
2/5. Prevents Cancer
1. The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties possessed by bell pepper offer several anti-cancer benefits.
2. The enzymes present in shimla mirch prevent gastric cancer and esophageal cancer.
3. The carotenoid lycopene present in capsicum helps prevent cancers of the cervix, bladder, pancreas, and prostate.
4. The capsaicin compound present in capsicum prevents carcinogens from binding with DNA and thus, offers protection against cancer.
5. The tannin present in bell pepper is known to prevent cancers caused by malignant tumours particularly gastric cancers.
3/5. Regulates Digestion
1. Capsicum stimulates the production of gastric juices thus, enhancing the appetite and boosting metabolism.
2. Bell peppers improve digestion by introducing natural warmth into the body.
3. Shimla mirch boosts the peristaltic movement in the intestines and flushes out waste.
4. The carminative properties of shimla mirch help in relieving complaints linked with excessive flatulence.
4/5. Protects heart health
1. The rich content of lycopene in red bell pepper makes it beneficial for heart health.
2. Green bell peppers are a rich source of fibre thus, reducing the high cholesterol levels.
3. The vitamin B6 and folate content of capsicum helps reduce homocysteine levels. Accelerated homocysteine levels give rise to an increased risk of heart disease.
4. The potassium content of bell pepper promotes heart health.
5. Capsicum helps in reducing triglycerides and in regulating high blood pressure and heart rate.
5/5. Other possible Benefits…
Capsicum produces several health benefits, apart from the health benefits mentioned above, it also produces few more such as supports the immune system, burns calories, prevents hypertension, cures iron deficiency, lowers the cholesterol levels and triglycerides, boosts immunity, enhances muscle function, regulates blood pressure, beneficial for gestational diabetes, lowers the incidence of several respiratory problems, supports hair & nails health.
Also helps stimulate hair growth, strengthen hair follicles, enhances hair growth, enhance the overall skin appearance, heal shingles & athlete’s foot, reverse signs of ageing, clear skin blemishes & rashes, boost metabolism, prevent the pain sensation, alleviate Crohn’s disease, eradicate gastrointestinal disorders and alleviate menopausal symptoms.
An excellent herb in nature, capsicum has been used extensively in the traditional medicine and medicine science also been studying for possible cancer fighting effects.
Culinary use of Capsicum
Capsicum can be consumed in several ways. They can be consumed raw, baked, or cooked. They can be easily added to various dishes and snacks. Some of the ways by which they can be incorporated into the diet are as follows…
- Used to prepare dip.
- Used to make curries or gravies.
- Used in salads, soups, pasta, and pizza toppings.
How to prepare Aloo Capsicum Masala?
Cut 2 big potatoes into small cubes. Heat oil in a pan and saute the potatoes. Fry them.
Take 1 red capsicum and 1 green capsicum. Roughly chop them and fry it till tender.
Stir ½ tsp of cumin powder, ½ tsp of coriander powder, ½ tsp of Kashmiri chilli powder, ¼ tsp of turmeric powder, ¼ tsp of amchur, and ½ tsp of garam masala. Stir all the ingredients thoroughly.
Sprinkle ½ tsp of kasuri methi, a little salt, and a little bit of water. Place the lid on and let it cook on low flame for approximately 5 minutes.
Mix the curry and serve them hot with rotis or rice.