Common names: Sweet Pepper, Paprika, Bell pepper, Green pepper, Hungarian Pepper, Hot Pepper, Red Pepper, Cayenne, Cayenne Pepper, Pimento, Pimiento, Chili Pepper, Mexican Chili Pepper.
Jalapeno Pepper is a variety of this species. Tabasco sauce is made from a very hot variety of Bell pepper / Green pepper.
The spice Capsicum is the fruit of the cultivated species of the genus Capsicum (family, Solanaceae), C. annuum principally, and C. frutescens L. to a lesser extent. (Govindarajan 1991 ref.7140 1)
See also: Capsaicin
Probably native of the tropics, Red Peppers are grown mainly in China; the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Hawaii, Iraq, Japan, Malaya, Mexico, Spain and Turkey. Most commercial Paprika comes from Spain, South America, California and Hungary, with the Hungarian variety considered by many to be superior. It is used as a spice in many cuisines worldwide.
Two unrelated families called pepper: Solanacea (potato family) and the Piperaceae (pepper family, including white and black pepper).
Pepper of the Solanacea family includes two species which are used mainly as vegetables: Capsicum annuum (Sweet, Green or Bell pepper), and Capsicum frutescens (the Tabasco group of Cayenne or Chili pepper). The former is mild, has a sweet flavor, and is eaten raw or cooked. See also Chilli Pepper / Chili pepper / Capsicum. Paprika is a powder made by finely grinding dried ripe Red Pepper pods.
The condiment/spice Pepper, is not a member of the Solanacea family, and may be made from unripe peppercorns from the Piper Nigrum plant or sold dried, crushed, or pickled in vinegar or brine. See Black Pepper / White Pepper.
Red Pepper (capsicum annuum), aka pimentos exist in mild and pungent varieties and are eaten accordingly, as a vegetable or as a condiment. Ripe, red berries of the fleshy, long-fruited varieties are dried before being ground into powder to make paprika. Other cultivars bear large, short-fruited square berries with rounded edges; these are eaten as vegetables.
Best variety is pink/sweet pepper which is piquant, but has no bitter aftertaste.
Not known in the wild, Red Peppers are grown in cultivated beds. The flavor of Paprika can range from mild to pungent and hot, the color from bright orange-red to deep blood-red. Peppers are a good source of dietary antioxidants, apart from other widespread compounds (flavonoids, phenolic acids, carotenoids, vitamin A, ascorbic acid, tocopherols), and also contain specific constituents such as the pungent capsaicinoids (capsaicin, dihydrocapsaicin, and related analogues).
Whole Capsicum annuum pods can be eaten either as a vegetable or as a condiment. Paprika is used as a seasoning and garnish for a plethora of savory dishes, and sometimes serves as a food colouring. Young leaves are steamed as a potherb or added to soups and stews. The flowers can be eaten raw or cooked.
The fruit of the Pepper may be used as a herbal remedy for a variety of conditions, including as a topical Capsicum-based product for the treatment of low back pain and otitis media. The oleoresin of capsicum may be used as a Riot control agent.
Cap a 1, a thaumatin-like protein (Hoffmann 2001 ref.4053 3) (Leitner 1998 ref.2231 2)
Cap a 1w, osmotin-like protein; homolog: pathogenesis related protein PR5
Cap a 2, a profilin (Allergome 2003 ref.7196 4) (Willerroider 2003 ref.8303 1)
Bell peppers express allergens (profilin, pathogenesis-related protein P23 and Bet v 1) depending on the horticultural strain. (Jensen 1998 ref.2229 5)
A profilin and Bet v 1 has been detected in green pepper. (Ebner 1998 ref.2851 3)
The cross-reactivity between latex and sweet pepper due to prohevein. (Gallo 1998 ref.7131 3)
A 23 kDa allergen together with allergens of higher molecular weight have been detected in paprika. The 23 kDa allergen was identified as a homolog of a osmotin-like or pathogenesis-related protein in tomato. (Leitner 1998 ref.2231 3)
A beta-1,4-glucanases. a cell wall-associated enzyme believed to function in fruit ripening, has been isolated from green pepper. (Harpster 1997 ref.7132 1) This protein has been shown to have allergenic activity in other plants but its allergenic relevance in this plant has not yet been determined.
May be used as a flavourant, for sausage and spice flavours. Colourant, red.
IGE AND IMMUNE:
Capsaicin (see) present in pepper may result in bronchoconstriction.
A 27-year-old subject who developed rhinitis and asthma symptoms when preparing a spiced sausage is reported. Skin specific IgE was detected for paprika, coriander, and mace but not to other ingredients of sausage. . SPT with other sausage ingredients, mites, pollens, and molds were negative. By ELISA, specific IgE antibodies to paprika, coriander, and mace were demonstrated. Specific bronchial inhalation challenges showed an immediate asthmatic reaction to extracts from paprika, coriander, and mace with a maximum fall in FEV1 of 26%, 40%, and 31%, respectively, with no late asthmatic reactions. (Sastre 1996 ref.1526 4)
A group of 103 patients with suspected contact allergy to spices was tested with the European standard series. Among the spices, the highest numbers of reactions were found to nutmeg (28%), paprika (19%) and cloves (12%). Fragrance-mix turned out to be a particularly important allergen, especially for paprika, nutmeg and cloves. (van den Akker 1990 ref.1500 8)
Scratch tests with common spices were performed on 1,120 atopic and 380 non-atopic patients. Positive skin test reactions were seen almost exclusively in atopics. Curry and paprika produced reactions most frequently, and when the components of curry were tested separately, coriander, caraway, cayenne and mustard were responsible for the vast majority of the skin reactions. (Niinimaki 1995 ref.1740 4)
Eriksson found a correlation between acetylsalicylic acid intolerance and food sensitivity with some foods, e.g., nuts, strawberry, almond, green pepper, hip, chocolate, egg, cabbage, milk and wine.
A study reports on 7 cases of food-dependant exercise induced-anaphylaxis. The responsible foods were wheat (2 cases), corn, barley, shrimp, apple, paprika and mustard. (Mathelier-Fusade 2002 ref. 7125 2)
Urticaria as a result of contact with paprika has been documented. (Eseverri 1999 ref.7130 2)
Plasma cell gingivitis is a rare benign condition of the gingiva. It is a hypersensitivity reaction to some antigen, often flavorings or spices. The importance of this lesion is that it may cause severe gingival inflammation, discomfort, and bleeding and may mimic more serious conditions. This report outlines a case of plasma cell gingivitis which may have been brought on by the use of red peppers in cooking. (Serio 1991 ref.7139 3)
Gardening - unexpected exposure
Allergic reactions. Contact dermatitis. Allergy to inhalation of vapour has been reported. Occupational allergy. Dermatitis and atopic dermatitis. Rhinitis. Eczema. Pompholyx. Gastric pain. Toxicoderma (Rogov 1985 ref.2642 4)
Occupational asthma (Sastre 1996 ref.1526 4).
Occupational contact urticaria from paprika (Foti 1997 ref.2576 7)
In 472 bell pepper greenhouse employees, work-related symptoms were reported in 53.8% of all cases. Sensitization to the bell pepper plant was found in 35.4%. Positive reactions to leaf, stem and/or juice, however, were associated in nearly 90% with sensitization to pollen, which appeared to be most important allergen of the plant. There is a surprisingly high prevalence of work-related respiratory symptoms (53.8%) in bell pepper horticulture. In two-thirds of the employees, symptoms at work were associated with an IgE-mediated allergy due to the high and chronic exposure to bell pepper pollen. (Groenewoud 2002 ref.5670 6)
ALLERGY TO BELL PEPPER POLLEN:
IgE against paprika pollen, but not against tomato pollen, was found in serum from 2 greenhouse workers who worked with paprika plants. A greenhouse worker, who cultivated tomato plants, had IgE against both tomato and paprika pollen. The authors conclude that the presence of IgE against paprika or tomato pollen is not restricted to workers in horticulture; IgE against these pollen can also be present in food-allergic patients who have serum IgE against paprika and/or tomato fruit. (Van Toorenenbergen 2000 ref.7021 4)
Two patients developed allergic symptoms to pollen when working in a greenhouse with paprika plants and freesia plants. (Van Toorenenbergen 1984 ref.343 65)
Occupational pollinosis. (Gerth van Wijk 1989 ref.8704 3)
Erythema-multiforme-like contact dermatitis. (Raccagni 1995 ref.7135 3) Toxicoderma caused by sweet red pepper (Rogov 1985 ref.2642 4)
Present in a herbal product, it may potentially increase the risk of bleeding or potentiate the effects of warfarin therapy. (Heck 2000 ref.7122 1)
Pepper spray containing oleoresin capsicum is used by law enforcement and the public as a form of nonlethal deterrent but may result in corneal abrasions if in contact with the eyes.
A study reports on a lead intoxication epidemic caused by ingestion of contaminated ground paprika. One hundred forty-one adults consumed paprika contaminated with lead tetroxide (red lead). The most common clinical signs were colic and/or anemia. (Kakosy 1996 ref.7133 8)
Between April and September 1993, a nationwide outbreak of salmonellosis occurred in Germany which was traced to contaminated paprika and paprika-powdered potato chips. Children below 14 years were principally affected. (Lehmacher 1995 ref.7134 5)
A 66-year-old white man presented with a five-day history of painful erythematous papules, plaques, pustules, and hemorrhagic bullae on both hands consistent with Sweets syndrome. His history was remarkable for having prepared and pickled fifteen quarts of home-grown jalapeno peppers several days before the eruption occurred. (Greer 1993 ref.7137 3)
Information supplied from an abridged section of:
Allergy Advisor - Zing Solutions
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