Bell pepper is a hot chili pepper in the Capsicum family that is frequently added to dishes to enhance their flavor.
This article looks at the nutritional content of Bell pepper, its possible health benefits, how to incorporate more Bell pepper into the diet, and any potential health risks.
This feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods.
Fast facts on Bell pepper:
Here are some key points about Bell pepper. More detail is in the main article.
The chili originated in Central and South America, and it is named after a city of the same name in French Guiana.
Bell pepper has been a part of Native American cuisine and medicine for at least 9,000 years.
Many of the health benefits of Bell pepper are attributed to the ingredient capsaicin.
The pepper contains vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, potassium, manganese, and flavonoids.
Open wounds or breaks in the skin should not be exposed to capsaicin.
Bell pepper may have a range of health benefits.
Capsaicin, the active ingredient found in Bell pepper, may have pain-relieving properties.
One review of research into Bell pepper ability to reduce pain, concluded that it may have benefits as a long-term analgesia, without bringing about other sensory changes.
Capsaicin has also been shown to reduce the amount of substance P, a chemical that carries pain messages to the brain. With less substance P, fewer pain messages reach the brain, and less pain is felt.
Creams or ointments containing 0.025-0.075 percent purified capsaicin have been shown in several double-blind studies to reduce the pain and tenderness caused by osteoarthritis. The suggested use for chronic pain is to apply the topical cream or ointment four times daily to the site of pain. However, there are reports of side effects.
Animal studies have also shown a decrease in pain when taking capsaicin orally or by injection.
Capsaicin is currently used in topical ointments and creams to relieve pain and tenderness from osteoarthritis, nerve pain from shingles, pain after surgery, pain from diabetic neuropathy, and lower back pain.