23 Interesting Facts about Peppers

facts about peppers


Peppers come in many varieties, shapes, sizes and flavors. Both bell peppers and chili peppers are widely used for cooking worldwide. This article will explore 23 fascinating facts about these popular types of peppers.

Facts about Bell Peppers

Closeup of various bell peppers
Closeup of various bell peppers
  1. Bell peppers can be green, red, orange, yellow or purple depending on ripeness. Unripe green bell peppers are tart and crunchy. As they ripen, they turn red, orange, yellow or purple and become sweeter.
  2. Red bell peppers are simply ripe green peppers and are sweeter. A red bell pepper is a mature green bell pepper. As chlorophyll breaks down, the red pigment lycopene becomes visible and the flavor becomes sweeter.
  3. Bell peppers have the most vitamin C of any fruit or vegetable – more than oranges! One large red bell pepper contains over 300% of your daily vitamin C needs. They have even more than citrus fruits.
  4. The scientific name for bell peppers is Capsicum annuum. They belong to the nightshade family Solanaceae along with tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant.
  5. Bell peppers originated in Central and South America. Wild pepper plants still grow in parts of Mexico, Central America, and the Andes.
  6. Columbus found them in the Caribbean in 1493. On his second voyage to the Americas, Columbus brought back pepper seeds to Spain.
  7. Peppers were named by Christopher Columbus after black peppercorns. Columbus wrongly thought the spicy chili peppers he found were related to black pepper from Asia.
  8. Bell peppers have no capsaicin, the chemical that makes chili peppers spicy. Unlike their spicy cousins, sweet bell peppers contain no capsaicin at all which is why they have no heat.

List of Peppers by Heat

Carolina reaper peppers in a wooden bowl.

New chile peppers are cultivated every year, but the hottest known pepper in the world is the Carolina Reaper. The bell pepper ranks at the bottom of the hotness scale with zero heat units. Check out everything in between on this list of common peppers and their Scoville heat units:

Pepper NameScoville Heat Units (SHU)
Carolina Reaper1,400,000 – 2,200,000 SHU
Trinidad Moruga Scorpion1,500,000 – 2,000,000 SHU
Ghost Pepper1,000,000 – 1,500,000 SHU
Red Savina Habanero Pepper500,000 – 750,000 SHU
Habanero Pepper350,000 – 500,000 SHU
Scotch Bonnet Pepper200,000 – 350,000 SHU
Birds Eye Chili50,000 – 100,000 SHU
Cayenne Pepper30,000 – 50,000 SHU
Serrano Pepper10,000 – 23,000 SHU
Jalapeno Pepper2,500 – 8,000 SHUs
Poblano Pepper1,000 – 1,500 SHU
Anaheim Pepper500 – 2,500 SHU
Pepperoncini Pepper100 – 500 SHU
Bell Pepper0 SHU

Facts about Chili Peppers

Variety of chili peppers. Red, green and yellow chili pepper on dark background top view
Variety of chili peppers. Red, green and yellow chili pepper on dark background top view
  1. There are over 60 varieties of chili peppers just in Mexico. From mild ancho peppers to fiery habaneros, Mexican cuisine makes use of many types of chilis.
  2. Chili peppers originated in Peru and Mexico over 6000 years ago. Archeologists have found ancient remains of chili peppers dating back thousands of years in South America.
  3. The Scoville scale measures the spiciness of chili peppers. It measures the concentration of capsaicin. A jalapeño ranges from 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville units.
  4. The Carolina Reaper is the world’s hottest chili pepper. With a staggering 1.6 million Scoville units, the Carolina Reaper holds the Guinness World Record for spiciest pepper.
  5. Birds cannot taste the spiciness of chili peppers. Their taste receptors do not detect capsaicin. This helps in dispersal when birds eat pepper seeds.
  6. Chili peppers have more vitamin C than oranges. Ounce for ounce, chili peppers like cayenne and habanero contain more vitamin C than citrus fruits.
  7. Capsaicin in chili peppers deters insects and fungi. It evolved as a natural pest deterrent to protect the peppers from predators.
  8. Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapeños. After harvesting, jalapeños are dried and smoked to make the popular chipotle flavor.
  9. The shishito pepper plays “Russian roulette” with spiciness. Most grilled shishitos are mild, but occasionally you’ll get a spicy one in the batch.

Health Benefits and Uses

Farmer holding peppers on the background of a crate with pepper
Farmer holding peppers on the background of a crate with pepper
  1. Peppers contain antioxidants like carotenoids and vitamin C. These compounds can help neutralize harmful free radicals to combat disease.
  2. They can help combat inflammation. The capsaicin in hot peppers has anti-inflammatory properties and may ease joint pain.
  3. Chili peppers help clear sinus congestion. Spicy foods like chilis make mucus membranes secrete, temporarily relieving blocked sinuses.
  4. Cayenne pepper can help stop bleeding. The capsaicin triggers pain receptors, so blood vessels constrict and slow bleeding.
  5. Peppers have been used in traditional Chinese medicine. Black peppercorns aid digestion while chilis treat pain in traditional practices.
  6. Both bell peppers and chili peppers are versatile ingredients in many cuisines worldwide. Their diversity, nutrition, flavor and culinary usefulness make them staples in kitchens globally.


This article covered 23 fascinating facts about peppers. We learned about the many varieties, origins, chemistry, uses, and health effects of both bell peppers and hot chili peppers.

These flavorful, nutritious peppers will continue to be dietary staples thanks to their nutrition, heat, and incredible versatility as ingredients. Both bell peppers and chilis are now important crops, foods, and spices used in traditional cooking across the world.

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