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The bell pepper (also known as sweet pepper or pepper in the United Kingdom, Canada and Ireland, and capsicum /ˈkæpsɪkəm/[1] in Australia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Singapore and New Zealand) is a cultivar group of the species Capsicum annuum.[2] Cultivars of the plant produce fruits in different colors, including red, yellow, orange, green, chocolate/brown, vanilla/white, and purple. Bell peppers are sometimes grouped with less pungent pepper varieties as "sweet peppers". The whitish ribs and seeds inside bell peppers may be consumed, but some people find the taste to be bitter.[3]

Bell pepper
Poivrons Luc Viatour.jpg
Red, yellow and green bell peppers
Species Capsicum annuum
Heat Mild
Scoville scale 0-25 SHU

Peppers are native to Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. Pepper seeds were imported to Spain in 1493, and from there spread to other European, African, and Asian countries. Today, China is the world's largest pepper producer, followed by Mexico and Indonesia.

Ideal growing conditions for bell peppers include warm soil, ideally 21 to 29 °C (70 to 84 °F), that is kept moist but not waterlogged.[4] Bell peppers are sensitive to an abundance of moisture and extreme temperatures.



The misleading name "pepper" was given by Europeans when Christopher Columbus brought the plant back to Europe.[5] At that time, black pepper (peppercorns), from the unrelated plant Piper nigrum originating from India, was a highly prized condiment; the name "pepper" was at that time applied in Europe to all known spices with a hot and pungent taste and was therefore naturally extended to the newly discovered Capsicum genus. The most commonly used alternative name of the plant family, "chile", is of Mexican origin, from the Nahuatl word chilli. Botanically speaking, bell peppers are fruits; however, they are correctly considered vegetables in culinary contexts.

The bell pepper is the only member of the Capsicum genus that does not produce capsaicin,[6] a lipophilic chemical that can cause a strong burning sensation when it comes in contact with mucous membranes. The lack of capsaicin in bell peppers is due to a recessive form of a gene that eliminates capsaicin and, consequently, the "hot" taste usually associated with the rest of the Capsicum genus.[7] This recessive gene is overwritten in the Mexibelle pepper, a hybrid variety of bell pepper that produces small amounts of capsaicin (and is thus mildly pungent). Sweet pepper cultivars produce non-pungent capsaicinoids,[8] with many physiological effects similar to the more pungent sister compound capsaican.[9]

The terms "bell pepper" (US), "pepper" (UK), and "capsicum" (Pakistan, India, Australia, and New Zealand) are often used for any of the large bell-shaped vegetables, regardless of their color. In British and Canadian English, the vegetable is simply referred to as a "pepper", or additionally by color (as in the term "green pepper", for example), whereas in the United States and Malaysia, they are usually referred to as "bell peppers". In parts of the U.S. Midwest, bell peppers are called "mangoes."[10] Canadian English uses both "bell pepper" and "pepper" interchangeably.

In some languages, the term "paprika", which has its roots in the word for pepper, is used for both the spice and the fruit – sometimes referred to by their color (e.g., "groene paprika", "gele paprika", in Dutch, which are green and yellow, respectively). The bell pepper is called "パプリカ" (papurika) or "ピーマン" (piiman, from Portuguese pimentão) in Japan.[11] In Switzerland, the fruit is mostly called "peperone", which is the Italian name of the fruit. In France, it is called "poivron", with the same root as "poivre" (meaning "pepper") or "piment". In Spain it is called "pimiento", which would be the masculine form of the traditional spice, "pimienta". In South Korea, the word "피망" (pimang from the Japanese "ピーマン" (piiman)) refers to green bell peppers, whereas "파프리카" (papeurika from paprika) refers to bell peppers of other colors. In Sri Lanka, the fruit used as a vegetable is called "maalu miris".


Peppers in five colors (Banana peppers are second from the left)

The most common colors of bell peppers are green, yellow, orange and red. More rarely, brown, white, lavender, and dark purple peppers can be seen, depending on the variety. Most typically, unripe fruits are green or, less commonly, pale yellow or purple. Red bell peppers are simply ripened green peppers,[12] although the Permagreen variety maintains its green color even when fully ripe. As such, mixed colored peppers also exist during parts of the ripening process. Green peppers are less sweet and slightly more bitter than yellow or orange peppers, with red bell peppers being the sweetest. The taste of ripe peppers can also vary with growing conditions and post-harvest storage treatment; the sweetest fruits are allowed to ripen fully on the plant in full sunshine, while fruit harvested green and after-ripened in storage is less sweet.[citation needed]

Nutritional valueEdit

Peppers, sweet, green, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 84 kJ (20 kcal)
4.64 g
Sugars 2.4 g
Dietary fiber 1.8 g
0.17 g
0.86 g
Vitamin A equiv.
18 μg
208 μg
341 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.057 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.028 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.48 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.099 mg
Vitamin B6
0.224 mg
Folate (B9)
10 μg
Vitamin C
80.4 mg
Vitamin E
0.37 mg
Vitamin K
7.4 μg
10 mg
0.34 mg
10 mg
0.122 mg
20 mg
175 mg
3 mg
0.13 mg
Other constituents
Fluoride 2 µg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Bell peppers are rich sources of antioxidants and vitamin C. The level of carotene, like lycopene, is nine times higher in red bell peppers. Red bell peppers have twice the vitamin C content of green bell peppers.[13]

Red and green bell peppers are high in para-coumaric acid.

The characteristic aroma of green bell peppers is caused by 3-isobutyl-2-methoxypyrazine (IBMP). Its detection threshold in water is estimated to be 2 ng/L.[14] The same chemical is responsible for characteristic Cabernet Sauvignon green note.


Bell and Chili pepper production (metric tons)[15]
Country 2004 2005 2006 2007
  China 12,031,031 12,530,180 13,031,000 14,033,000
  Mexico 1,431,258 1,617,264 1,681,277 1,690,000
  Indonesia 1,100,514 1,058,023 1,100,000 1,100,000
  Turkey 1,700,000 1,829,000 1,842,175 1,090,921
  Spain 1,077,025 1,063,501 1,074,100 1,065,000
  United States 978,890 959,070 998,210 855,870
  Nigeria 720,000 721,000 721,500 723,000
  Egypt 467,433 460,000 470,000 475,000
  South Korea 410,281 395,293 352,966 345,000
  Netherlands 318,000 345,000 318,000 340,000
  Romania 237,240 203,751 279,126 280,000
  Ghana 270,000 270,000 277,000 279,000
  Italy 362,430 362,994 345,152 252,194
  Tunisia 255,000 256,000 256,000 250,000
  Algeria 265,307 248,614 275,888 233,000
  Hungary 126,133 113,371 206,419 207,000
  Morocco 182,340 190,480 235,570 192,000
  Serbia* 159,741 167,477 177,255 150,257
  Japan 153,400 154,000 146,900 150,000
  Israel 129,100 134,700 150,677 136,000
 World 24,587,124 25,261,259 26,252,907 26,056,900
  • Note: Serbia before 2006 included Montenegro


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Wells, John C. (2008), Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.), Longman, p. 123, ISBN 9781405881180 
  2. ^ Pharmacognosy and Health Benefits of Capsicum Peppers (Bell Peppers)
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Growing Peppers: The Important Facts". Archived from the original on 27 January 2013. Retrieved 10 January 2013. 
  5. ^ "Medicinal Plants of the Southwest". Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "The World's Healthiest Foods". Archived from the original on 8 February 2010. Retrieved 23 February 2010. 
  8. ^ Macho, Antonio; Lucena, Concepción; Sancho, Rocio; Daddario, Nives; Minassi, Alberto; Muñoz, Eduardo; Appendino, Giovanni (2003-02-01). "Non-pungent capsaicinoids from sweet pepper". European Journal of Nutrition. 42 (1): 2–9. doi:10.1007/s00394-003-0394-6. ISSN 1436-6207. 
  9. ^ Josse, Andrea R; Sherriffs, Scott S; Holwerda, Andrew M; Andrews, Richard; Staples, Aaron W; Phillips, Stuart M (2010-08-03). "Effects of capsinoid ingestion on energy expenditure and lipid oxidation at rest and during exercise". Nutrition & Metabolism. 7: 65. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-7-65. ISSN 1743-7075. PMC 2922296 . PMID 20682072. 
  10. ^ "Dictionary of American Regional English". Retrieved 10 October 2015. 
  11. ^ Azhar Ali Farooqi; B. S. Sreeramu; K. N. Srinivasappa (2005). Cultivation of Spice Crops. Universities Press. pp. 336–. ISBN 978-81-7371-521-1. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  12. ^ "Vegetable of the Month: Bell Pepper". CDC Fruit & Vegetable of the Month. Archived from the original on 3 January 2003. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  13. ^ University of the District of Columbia. "Peppers" (PDF). Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  14. ^ Dominique Roujou de Boubee, School of Oenology, University of Bordeaux II. "Research on 2-methoxy-3-isoButylpyrazine in Grapes and Wine" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 October 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  15. ^ "Table 64—World bell and chili peppers: Production 1990–2007". United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2011-05-08.