Is pepper a fruit or a vegetable?
Actually, pepper is a fruit. At least, botanically speaking…
As a rule of thumb, any food that is a result of a flower is actually a fruit. For example, peppers, tomatoes, or cucumbers are actually fruits.
On the other hand, any food that is a part of a plant is vegetable. Carrots are the roots of the carrot plant, so they are vegetables. Similarly, beets are vegetables. We eat the roots and the leaves of the beet plant.
So, why do we consider peppers and tomatoes vegetables? Actually, they are fruits.
To answer, we have to go back to the 19th century. At that time, all the imported vegetables had import taxes. Contrary, the fruits didn’t have any extra tax requirements. Trade companies tried to skip import payment, for foods like peppers and tomatoes. They said that these foods are actually fruits. They used the botanical definition.
But the court decided to classify foods by eating time. Vegetables classified as anything that we eat during the meal, while fruits are anything that we eat as a dessert, after a meal. As a result, since then, peppers and tomatoes are considered vegetables.
How banana peppers taste?
Banana peppers are members of the chili pepper family.
They are medium size peppers. Their flavor is mild and tangy. The color of banana peppers is yellow, but you can find red or green banana peppers, as well. Seems like, the color depends on the ripeness stage. Also, banana peppers get sweeter, as they ripen.
Most common banana peppers aren’t too hot. Let them ripe for some time, in order, to get sweeter.
We can enjoy them raw, cooked, roasted or pickled.
Should I buy organic or conventional peppers?
According to the 2016 Agricultural Chemical Use Survey of Vegetable crops, of the US Department of Agriculture, there are many herbicides and insecticides for the commercial agriculture of peppers. Napropamide, S-Metolachlor, and Pendimethalin are the 3 top herbicides in use. Additionally, chlorantraniliprole, Zeta-cypermethrin, Imidacloprid are the 3 most commonly used insecticides (1).
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, peppers belong to the “High pesticide residue score” group. In 2011, the USDA tested 739 samples of peppers. They found residues of highly toxic insecticides, such as acephate and chlorpyrifos. The most worrying fact is that the samples were tested for pesticides, after they had been prepared to be eaten. Producers had washed them thoroughly. However, pesticide residues were detected (2,3).
As we don’t peel peppers, we can’t avoid consuming any pesticide residue. No matter how thoroughly we wash them, some pesticide residue will remain.
Therefore, you better buy organic peppers, whenever possible.
How can I remove pesticides from vegetables?
Firstly, if you buy peppers frequently, buy organic.
Unfortunately, government researchers found pesticide residues even in peppers of organic produce (4).
You should wash even organic food thoroughly with a vinegar solution. Just in case…
Go to farmers’ markets. You can find quality seasonal organic products, at reasonable prices. Talk to the producers. Build trust…
Last, but not least, if you buy conventional peppers, cook them. Banana peppers are tasty roasted… Pesticide levels in vegetables and fruits diminish significantly when we cook them (5).
Are banana peppers good for you?
Banana peppers are good for you. They are rich in nutrients. For instance, they have more vitamin C than oranges… Moreover, banana peppers are low in calories.
Nutritional value of banana peppers
They are pretty low in calories
Banana peppers are low in calories. 100gr of banana peppers contains only 27 calories.
A banana pepper contains about 9-20 calories, depending on the size.
Moreover, banana peppers are mainly water, about 92%.
As all peppers are low in calories, they’re good for weight loss.
Fibers and carbs in banana peppers
Banana peppers are low in carbs. They contain only 5.35 gr of carbs per 100 gr. Moreover, 3.4 gr are dietary fibers. Only 1.95 gr are sugars.
Banana peppers are so good for you, as they contain more fiber than sugars. They are suitable for people with diabetes, as well.
The glycemic index of banana peppers, as long as bell peppers, is very low. It’s around 15. As peppers are very low in carbs, the glycemic load is 1, meaning that peppers won’t spike blood sugar.
Therefore, they are ideal food for people with diabetes and for people who try to lose weight.
Eating foods that are rich in fiber can benefit you greatly. Most people fail to eat the recommended daily intake of fiber. Eat fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, and legumes if you want to consume more fiber.
So many common foods are rich in dietary fiber. For instance, rice, spinach, broccoli, bananas, apples, or avocados are all high in fiber. Moreover, a green smoothie or oatmeal is the easiest way to boost your daily fiber intake…
Vitamin and mineral content
Banana peppers are good for you, as they are rich in vitamins and minerals.
Analytically, 100 gr of banana pepper (about 2 medium banana peppers), according to the USDA, contains (6):
- Calcium, Ca: 14 mg. The Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of calcium is about 1300 mg. So, banana peppers contain only traces of calcium. Luckily, there are many of plant-based foods rich in calcium.
- Iron, Fe: 0.46 mg. The RDI of iron is 8-18 mg. For pregnant women is about 27 mg.
- Magnesium, Mg: 17 mg. The RDI of magnesium is 310-420 mg.
- Phosphorus, P: 32 mg. The RDI is 700 mg for adults and 1250 mg for teenagers or pregnant women. You can see the whole list of plant-based foods high in phosphorus here.
- Potassium, K: 256 mg. The RDI is 2600-3400 mg depending on sex and age.
- Zinc, Zn: 0.25 mg. The RDI is 8-13 mg. Pregnant and lactating women need more zinc. Most noteworthy, men have high zinc needs. Many common foods are high in zinc. Whole-grains, seeds, and nuts, such as almonds are the best sources.
- Copper, Cu: 94mcg. The RDI is about 900mcg
- Selenium, Se: 0.3mcg. The RDI is 55-70mcg
- Vitamin C: 82.7 mg. The RDI is 75-120 mg
- Thiamine: 0.08 mg. The RDI is 1.2 mg
- Riboflavin: 0.054 mg. The RDI is about 1.3 mg
- Niacin: 1.24 mg. The RDI is around 14-18 mg (of niacin equivalents NE).
- Vitamin B6: 0.357 mg. The RDI is 1.3-2 mg
- Folate: 0.29mcg. The RDI is around 400-600 mcg DFE
- Vitamin A, RAE: 17mcg. The RDI is 700-900 mcg RAE
- Vitamin E: 0.69 mg. The RDI is 15 mg
- Vitamin K: 9.5mcg. The RDI is 90-120 mcg. Eat leafy greens, in order, to reach your daily vitamin K needs.
In summary, banana peppers are good sources of vitamin C and vitamin B6:
- Vitamin C: 110% DV (Daily Value)
- Vitamin B6: 27% DV
- Potassium: 10% DV
- Copper: 10% DV
- Niacin: 9% DV
- Vitamin E: 5% DV
The nutrition value of banana peppers is important, as they contain all the vitamin C we need, adequate amounts of vitamin B6, as well as traces of many other micronutrients.
Just for comparison, an orange may contain only 52 mg of vitamin C. As vitamin C is so vital for natural collagen production, better eat peppers daily. They can keep your skin young…
Banana peppers, as long as all peppers, are significantly high in vitamin C. Just 2 medium peppers are enough to achieve our daily vitamin C needs.
What are the differences among other pepper varieties?
There are many pepper varieties. What’s the best for cooking, raw in salads, or richest in nutrients?
Banana vs pepperoncini peppers
It is difficult to tell the differences between banana peppers and pepperoncini.
Appearance of pepperoncini & banana peppers
Both banana peppers and pepperoncini peppers have the same size. They’re about 2-3 inches. Banana peppers are slightly longer. Also, they’re thinner.
Pepperoncini peppers are thin-walled peppers, with wrinkled light yellow-green skin. As they mature, pepperoncini peppers turn into red, though.
Pepperoncini peppers originate in Italy and Greece.
Green pepperoncini peppers are the most common. They are mainly found pickled in jars.
Certainly, banana peppers look like pepperoncini peppers. They have a yellow color. When maturing, banana peppers turn green, red, or even orange. Moreover, they look like bananas, hence their name.
We can find them pickled, and fresh. When pickled, banana peppers are easily confused with pepperoncini peppers.
Nutritional Value of pepperoncini & banana peppers
Above all, prefer fresh banana peppers than pepperoncini peppers. It’s difficult to find fresh pepperoncini peppers. Only pickled pepperoncini peppers are sold. Pickled peppers lack nutrients. According to many brand labels, pickled pepperoncini peppers contain no vitamin C.
Pickled vegetables are also packed with sodium. Just 100 gr of pickled pepperoncini may contain more than 1500 mg of sodium.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day.
Pickled vegetables may be bad for your health. Better avoid them.
Furthermore, all varieties of fresh raw peppers are rich in vitamin C. For instance, 100 gr of common pepper varieties are all rich in vitamin C:
- Poblano pepper: 80.4 mg
- Red sweet pepper: 127.7 mg
- Green sweet pepper: 80.4 mg
- Hot chili pepper: 193.1 mg
- Serrano pepper: 44.9 mg
Prepare a colorful salad. Put in green and red peppers for variety. As red peppers are the richest in vitamin C, prefer them. Have you ever tasted the traditional Greek salad? Tomatoes provide lycopene, peppers vitamin C, and olive oil polyphenols.
How do banana peppers & pepperoncini papers taste like?
Pepperoncinis are sweet, mild chili peppers. They also are juicier than banana peppers. On the other hand, banana peppers have a mild but tangier and sweeter taste.
Banana peppers are commonly used raw in salads or sandwiches. Also, they’re common on pizzas.
Are banana peppers hot or sweet?
Additionally, in many recipes, we add banana peppers for their sweetness. When recipe demands heat, other pepper varieties are used. Jalapeño peppers or Hungarian Wax pepper, for instance.
These hot varieties are common in sauces.
Peppers’ burning effect is due to the capsaicin content and it’s measured by the Scoville Heat Scale:
- Jalapeño peppers: is a pretty hot pepper variety with about 5,000 Scoville Heat Units
- Banana peppers: is rather a sweet variety. They have only 500 Scoville Heat Units.
- Pepperoncini peppers: almost have no heat. They have around 100-500 Scoville Heat Units.
- Bell peppers: have no heat at all. They have 0 Scoville Heat Units.
If you want to increase the heat of your recipes, consider using Jalapeño, Hungarian wax, Anaheim, Poblanos, Cayenne, Tabasco, or Cubanelle peppers.
Want heat? Use Jalapeño peppers. They are about 50 times hotter than pepperoncini peppers.
Are pickled or canned vegetables dangerous for your health?
Pickling is the process of preserving food by anaerobic fermentation for a period of time. In brine or some acid solution, such as vinegar. Brine is a solution of salt and water.
Pickled vegetables, such as pickled banana peppers, certainly are convenient. We can find them all year round and preserve them for a long time, at room temperatures.
But… At what cost?
Pickled Vegetables and Gastric Cancer risk
Researchers of the National Cancer Center of Korea and from the Ministry of Health of Japan tried to find if pickled vegetables increase the risk of gastric cancer (7). They came to the conclusion that a high intake of pickled vegetables may increase gastric cancer risk.
Scientists suggest that we should eat more fresh vegetables than pickled, in order, to reduce gastric cancer risk.
Weight gain, Body Mass Index & Blood Pressure
Scientists tried to figure out if high consumption of pickled vegetables can affect our weight. In 2018, they designed a study with 289 participants (8). The evidence showed that people with high consumption of pickled veggies had a significantly higher Body Mass Index (BMI).
They also had higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Also, scientists found a significant association between pickle consumption and obesity. Moreover, pickled vegetables may manipulate our hormones, making us consume more calories.
Pickled Vegetables and Breast cancer
A 2010 study showed that the total amount of vegetable intake is important for decreased risk of breast cancer (9).
Furthermore, the percentage of pickled vegetables is significantly associated with the risk of breast cancer.
Pickled Vegetables and Esophageal cancer
Another study published in the British Journal of Cancer, suggested a potential two-fold increased risk of esophageal cancer associated with the intake of pickled vegetables (10).
Pickled Vegetables and Colorectal Cancer
A 2017 study investigated the association between high intake of pickled vegetables and colorectal cancer (11).
The researchers studied the eating habits of participants. Especially the amount of pickled vegetables consumed. The results showed that a high intake of pickled vegetables may be a risk factor for colorectal cancer.
Moreover, they highlighted the possible synergistic effect of cured meats and pickled vegetables. Their combination may increase the risk of colorectal cancer.
On the contrary, scientists believe that consuming tea and beans may decrease the risk of colorectal cancer. Even we continue to consume pickled vegetables.
Tea is rich in polyphenols, such as EGCG, EGC, and EC. Tea polyphenols are called catechins. Catechins have powerful anti-cancer effects. Other possible health effects of green tea are decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases and increased overall longevity.
Are pickled vegetables bad for you?
If you enjoy your pickled vegetables once in a while, at least try to buy pickled vegetables which:
- are low in sodium. We need sodium, but just a little. Pickled vegetables will skyrocket your daily sodium intake. Prefer brands with the minimum sodium content.
- contain vinegar. Vinegar has many health benefits. Most noteworthy, vinegar helps the body to control blood sugar more effectively.
- are fermented. Fermented foods naturally contain probiotics. These are the good bacteria in your gut, keeping your digestive system healthy.
Recipes with raw, pickled, or canned banana peppers
Banana peppers not only are good for you, as they are rich in vitamin C and fibers, but also they have a unique taste.
You can add banana peppers raw in salads and sandwiches. Moreover, they are taste great roasted, or as topping on pizzas.
Salad with banana peppers
Banana peppers are great on salads, as well. Cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, olives, all taste great with banana peppers.
Try to include a banana pepper in a Greek salad. You’ll have a rejuvenating salad, providing many macro- and micro-nutrients.
None of the tomatoes, onions, or olives have adequate amounts of vitamin C. On the other hand, peppers are good sources of vitamin C. That’s a super healthy meal, just in seconds…
Extra virgin olive oil and pepper
Moreover, if you sprinkle some extra virgin oil on your vegetables, not only you’ll make them taste better, but also you may improve the nutrient absorption.
A 2014 study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Diabetics, showed that the presence of fat in a meal may enhance the absorption of vitamins (12).
Scientists didn’t suggest any particular dietary fat. The percentage of polyunsaturated and monosaturated fatty acids are irrelevant.
Prefer extra virgin olive oil, as it’s rich in polyphenols, powerful antioxidants. Furthermore, flaxseed oil is also a good option, as it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Eat less of other vegetable oils, such as sunflower oil or canola oil.
People who follow a traditional Mediterranean Diet have a 30-fold lower rate of coronary heart disease. That’s known as the Mediterranean paradox. Scientists who studied the Mediterranean Diet found that less saturated fats and more olive oil, rich in monosaturated fatty acids (80%) are the main reasons for this paradox.
Pizza with banana peppers
Banana peppers are great on pizza. They taste excellent with any tomato sauce, black or green olives, onions or even garlic.
Roasted banana peppers
Finally, you can roast banana peppers. They taste great.
- 2016 Agricultural Chemical Use Survey of Vegetable crops, of the US Department of Agriculture (pdf)
- USDA, Agriculture Marketing Service: Pesticide Data Program.
- Environmental Working Group (EWG)
- USDA, Agriculture Marketing Service: 2010 – 2011 Pilot Study Pesticide Residue Testing of Organic Produce (pdf)
- National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): Effect of Cooking Process on the Residues of Three Carbamate Pesticides in Rice
- NIH-National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements
- National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): Fresh and pickled vegetable consumption and gastric cancer in Japanese and Korean populations: a meta-analysis of observational studies.
- NCBI-National Center for Biotechnology Information: Pickle Consumption is Associated with Body Mass Index and Blood Pressure among Iranian Female College Students: a Cross-Sectional Study (pdf)
- NCBI-Vegetables, but not pickled vegetables, are negatively associated with the risk of breast cancer.
- British Journal of Cancer: Pickled vegetables and the risk of oesophageal cancer: a meta-analysis
- Pubmed: Intake of Pickled Vegetables and Colorectal Cancer
- Academy of Nutrition and Diabetics: Dietary fat increases vitamin D-3 absorption.