Capsicum is a flowering plant in the nightshade family that bears the fruit that most of us know as peppers or chiles. The taste of peppers ranges from the mild and sweet to the painfully hot. The 27 species of capsicum also vary as to their vitamin and mineral content.
Vitamins and Minerals in Different Capsicum Varieties
Capsicum is generally a source of vitamin A and C, but the values of these vitamins vary significantly according to the type of pepper. The amounts of dietary minerals in peppers are not as variable between types. One cup of chopped sweet raw red peppers provides 93 percent of the average daily value for vitamin A and 317 percent of the average daily value for vitamin C. They contain 1 percent of the average daily value for calcium and 4 percent for iron. The same amount of chopped sweet raw green peppers is somewhat less nutritious, with a daily value of 11 percent for vitamin A , 200 percent for vitamin C, 1 percent for calcium and 3 percent for iron. One cup of raw jalapenos contains 14 percent for of the daily value for vitamin A , 66 vitamin C, 1 percent for calcium and 4 percent for iron.
According to the Linus Pauling Micronutrient Information Center, vitamin A's nickname is the "anti-infective vitamin" because of its critical role in maintaining the immune system. Vitamin A is also a key nutrient for the eyes. If you do not get enough vitamin A, you may develop a condition called "night blindness" in which your ability to see in dim light is compromised. Vitamin A is also important for red blood cell production and normal fetal development.
The fruits of most capsicum species, especially the red varieties, are especially rich sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C, according to the Linus Pauling Center, plays a vital role in the synthesis of collagen, a major structural protein in the body. Vitamin C is also a robust antioxidant that helps protect your cells from being damaged by the harmful free radicals that have been implicated in chronic disease and aging.
You will need more sources of calcium than capsicum, although peppers do provide a small proportion of the average daily requirement. Calcium, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health, is so vital to physiological functioning that the body will take the calcium that it needs from the bones if insufficient amounts are obtained through dietary sources. Post-menopausal women are at special risk for calcium deficiencies, which can lead to weakened bones and fractures.
Iron deficiencies are among the top nutritional disorders worldwide, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Women of childbearing age and young children comprise the population that is most at risk. Iron is necessary to bring oxygen to the tissues in your body. Insufficient iron in your diet can lead to fatigue and impaired immunity. Use other food sources of iron besides capsicum to guarantee that you get enough.
- Office of Dietary Supplements Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Iron
- Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center: Vitamin A
- Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center: Vitamin C
- Office of Dietary Supplements Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Calcium
- USDA National Nutrient Database