From the fiery tiny red chilies to the quintessential bell peppers, also known as capsicums, peppers have made their way into mainstream cuisine.
No longer just used for Asian or Latin American dishes, peppers are a common addition to salads, stir-fries, and sandwiches or simply as a healthier snack to dunk into a tub of hummus.
Seeds are often thought to be the source of the pepper’s spiciness.
Capsaicin is the primary chemical in peppers that give them their infamous spice.
Capsaicin comes from the lighter-colored pith of the pepper.
The pith, also known as the ribs or veins, is the fleshy part of the fruit to which the seeds are attached.
Capsaicin has been linked to numerous health benefits such as:
Heart Health – The anti-inflammatory qualities in capsaicin make it an excellent choice for improving heart health and lowering HDL cholesterol levels.
Weight Loss – Capsaicin has been known to increase metabolism, help burn fat stores and reduce appetite.
Pain Management – Capsaicin is used as the main ingredient in topical ointments, patches, and gels that can help reduce pain caused by muscle aches, arthritis, and chronic injuries.
Different types of peppers have vastly different levels of capsaicin.
Bell peppers have very low levels, if at all, while a single red chili will have you sweating.
Did You Know?
Plants developed capsaicin as an effective defense mechanism to protect themselves from predators yet spread their seeds. Most animal species are affected by spice.
Not birds though!
Birds will happily munch on peppers, and as the tiny seeds travel through their bodies undigested, they get spread across long distances, and the plants get to proliferate generously.
These feathered carriers also swallow the peppers whole, keeping the seeds intact and allowing for germination.
Mammals and other animals that chew on seeds eliminate the possibility of germination.
In addition, capsaicin is known to be a natural insect repellent and can even repel fungi, ensuring a healthy plant.
The amount of capsaicin found in peppers dictates the degree of spice.
It is measured on a scale called SHU, or Scoville Heat Units. Wilbur Scoville developed the Scoville Scale from the United States in 1912.
The ingestion of too much capsaicin can have adverse effects such as:
- Abdominal cramps
- Acid reflux
Fun Fact! According to the Guinness Book of Records, the Carolina Reaper is officially the spiciest pepper in the world.
It has an astonishing 2.2 million SHU in comparison to Tobasco, which has 80,000.
Are Pepper Seeds Poisonous?
Whether you want to spend the time to get them out before cooking is entirely a personal preference.
Bell pepper seeds are hard and can be unpleasant to bite into, especially if you use a generous amount of peppers.
In addition, they have a slightly bitter taste.
However, bell peppers are members of the nightshade family.
Nightshades are a group of fruits and vegetables that include potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant.
Some people believe nightshade can trigger inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.
Some believe that the glycoalkaloid compound, solanine, that is present in nightshades can worsen inflammation.
While some people have reported worsening arthritis when eating nightshades, there is no scientific research to support that solanine directly affects inflammation.
In vast amounts, solanine can be poisonous, but fruits and vegetables have very little of this alkaloid in them.
Solanine poisoning can happen when you eat between two to five milligrams per kilogram of body weight.
That roughly computes to about 130 milligrams of solanine for an average 150 lb / 68 kg person.
In comparison, an eggplant has about 11 milligrams of solanine, while a potato has 25 to 275 micrograms.
Since 1 milligram is 1,000 micrograms, a potato has a maximum of 0.275 mg depending on the variety and environment.
Are Bell Pepper Seeds Healthy?
In comparison, the flesh of bell pepper itself is packed with nutrients.
They are rich sources of fiber, vitamin A and C, folic acid, and potassium.
Bell peppers comprise 92% of water. In addition, 100g of red bell pepper contain:
Red peppers are the ripest and most nutritious.
On the opposite end of the scale are green peppers that are harvested the earliest.
Unharvested green peppers first turn yellow, orange, then red, but they can also stop changing color at any time on the spectrum.
That explains the various colors available in your grocery store!
Fun Fact: Green peppers are merely unripe red, yellow, or orange peppers!
They are not a variety of bell peppers on their own.
Red peppers have more than ten times beta-carotene than the greens and 50% more vitamin C.
Beta-carotene is a red to the orange pigment found in some fruits and vegetables that our bodies convert to vitamin A.
Beta-carotene has been known to:
- Act as an antioxidant to reduce oxidative stress and fight free radicals
- Lower the risk of severe illness like cancer or heart disease
- Strengthen the immune system
- Help maintain healthy lungs
- Slow cognitive decline
Fruits and vegetables rich in beta-carotene include:
- Leafy greens
- Sweet potatoes
- and bell peppers, of course!
What Are The Health Benefits Of Bell Pepper Seeds?
To understand the benefits of bell pepper seeds, first, we’ll have to understand the health benefits of the actual fruit.
Bell peppers are nutrient powerhouses that pack a punch.
They have been linked to:
Improve eye health
They contain over 30 different types of carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, lycopene, and zeaxanthin.
Carotenoids are phytonutrients that come from the bright orange and yellow pigments found in many fruits and vegetables.
Because of their ability to limit blue light from entering the eye, they have been said to help stave off eye diseases and help eyes heal.
Support immune system
Adequate intake of vitamin C is crucial to a healthy immune system.
A single red bell pepper far exceeds the recommended daily intake of vitamin C by at least 50%.
Improves mood and sleep
Peppers contain B6, the vitamin that helps your brain produce norepinephrine and serotonin, two known mood regulators.
B6 also supports melatonin production and might act as a sleep aid.
Skin and hair
Bell peppers contain vitamin E, an essential nutrient linked with skin and hair health.
Capsaicin, the primary chemical found in peppers that give them their spice, has been linked to offering pain relief.
It is commonly found in topical analgesic gels for the treatment of muscle pain and arthritis.
Capsaicin has also been linked to increased metabolic rates and is used for fat-reducing scrubs and creams.
What Is The Nutritional Value Of Bell Pepper Seeds?
Bell peppers are little nutrient bombs high in vitamins and minerals.
They consist of 92% water and have small amounts of fiber, sugar, and carbohydrates.
Red peppers are the ripest and the most healthful, while green peppers are harvested the earliest and have the least nutrients.
As they ripen, they turn yellow, orange, then red.
The nutrients that bell peppers contain are:
- Vitamin A – Bell peppers are rich in beta-carotene that the body uses to convert into vitamin A for eye health.
- Vitamin C – An essential nutrient for a healthy immune system, a single bell pepper contains 169% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of Vitamin C.
- Vitamin E – An essential vitamin and powerful antioxidant, vitamin E supports healthy nerves and muscles.
- Vitamin K1 – An elusive form of vitamin K, K1 is necessary for blood clotting and healthy bones.
- Vitamin B6 – This vitamin is essential for supporting the formation of red blood cells.
- Vitamin B9 – Also known as folate, it is one of the B vitamins vital in red blood cell production.
- Potassium – Helps muscle and nerve health and supports proper cellular growth.