Bell peppers, or capsicum, can be a dieter’s dream food. These crunchy vegetables have an eye-catching shape and glossy texture, and they come in a wide array of colours and flavours, from red, yellow, green and orange to even purple and black.
However, not everyone can digest this delightful veg. Allergies and intolerances are the two main food-related conditions which cause stomach cramps, but there are a few other reasons why you may experience stomach cramps after consuming bell peppers.
Though relatively rare compared to other food allergies, bell peppers can nonetheless cause an allergic reaction in some individuals. Bell pepper allergies are unusual, but not unheard of, and are usually a result of intolerance to an ingredient found in peppers called capsicum annuum. Also present in divergent amounts is an allergen called Bet V1, which is a common food allergen. If you suspect you may have a bell pepper allergy, see your doctor and get tested.
2. Consumption Of Raw Vegetables
For many people, consuming raw, uncooked vegetables can lead to cramps and stomach issues, because they are harder to digest than cooked foods. This is particularly true of bell pepper due to their tough skin, which makes them harder to break down and can lead to bloating and indigestion.
Flavin, too, is contained in the white inner part of the bell pepper and in the seeds, and once ingested, it can attach to the stomach wall and cause pain and discomfort. To avoid pain and puffiness, consider frying, baking or steaming bell peppers (cooked bell pepper skins are much easier on the tummy), and always thoroughly remove seeds and the inner white part prior to consumption.
4. Unripe And Green Peppers
Did you know that green bell peppers are immature versions of versions of red, orange, or yellow peppers? Since they are less ripe, they have a more bitter flavour, and can cause more digestive disruptions.
They also contain more solanine than their colourful cousins. Solanine is a poison contained in all foods belonging to the Solanaceae family, including bell peppers, eggplants, potatoes and tomatoes. If ingested in large quantities, solanine can be toxic, but the substance disappears as the fruit arrives to full maturity. Some people are more sensitive to solanine than others, so if you are one of these people, you may want to consider only eating the red, orange or yellow capsicums.
4. Spoiled Food
While unripe peppers can cause stomach issues for some, stale, old or withered bell peppers can also cause digestive problems. Peppers lose their moisture over time, causing them to deflate and eventually rot. To keep your bell peppers at their freshest, store them in tupperware containers (rather than zip lock bags). Also leave your peppers whole for as long as possible; whole peppers lose less moisture and stay fresher. If your bell peppers have gone mushy, have a foul odour or are visibly rotten, discard them.
As a general rule, green peppers, when stored properly in the fridge, can last two to three weeks, while the colourful varieties stay fresh for a week or two. Pre-cut peppers, on the other hand, only stay fresh for about a day or two before they begin to go bad.
5. Unwashed Veggies
Before consuming any fruit or vegetable, it is strongly advised to wash them thoroughly. Not only are bell peppers regularly sprayed with harmful pesticides, which can irritate the tummy, but they may also come in contact with multiple strains of bacteria and toxins on the long road from the farm to your fridge.
6. Other Considerations
There can be several other causes of stomach cramps other than consuming bell peppers. Some of these causes may include pregnancy, food poisoning, Crohn’s disease, appendicitis or irritable bowel syndrome. Consult your doctor before ruling out any of these possibilities if you’ve been having stomach issues as a result of eating bell peppers.