2

votes

Are green peppers poisonous? Are they best avoided?

Commented on April 11, 2015
Created August 16, 2013 at 1:52 AM

It is already known that nightshades contain potent toxins such as glycoalkaloids (solanine, capsaicin, etc.). However, these toxins for most people are relatively benign, and with proper preparation, can be part of a healthy Paleo diet when consumed in moderation.

The problem is that glycoalkaloids, particularly solanine, are particularly concentrated in the stems and leaves of these plants, as well as in the situation when they are unripe. Unripe nightshades overall contain high levels of toxins, which is why green potatoes, green eggplant, and green tomatoes (despite a particular dish in Southern cuisine) are unsafe to eat.

My question, Paleohackers, is this:

If this is true, what about green peppers? Since green peppers are not a different variety of bell pepper but rather just unripened red peppers, wouldn't that make them inappropriate to eat? If so, why are they still relatively ubiquitous as a food in comparison to other nightshades? Does anyone have information on whether they are ancestral or not?

Not to mention red peppers are in general more nutritious than green peppers in terms of vitamin C, A and E for an equivalent calorie comparison: green peppers vs red peppers. Red peppers are also more nutritious overall per 100g of each food item.

Note that this can also be said of all varieties of Capsicum annuum (eg. green chiles vs red ones).

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on August 17, 2013
at 01:48 AM

Never had a sweet green bell pepper myself.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 16, 2013
at 04:10 PM

Like durianrider meets Mark Sisson on a pitch dark equatorial night...drinking agua dientes under twinkling dim lights, followed with strong coffee...if I could only go back there someday...

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 16, 2013
at 04:03 PM

Or failed preservation techniques maybe. Eating ajiaco with the sophisticated Colombianos, they were probably looking down their noses at the primitive Bolivianos eating their rotten potato soup. My favorite Colombian dish was plata criolla, which with the grilled meat, fried eggs and plantains only (without the rice and beans) would make an excellent paleo feast.

6629b9ed6548231f4774d39a0641a573

(98)

on August 16, 2013
at 03:17 PM

This is interesting... Perhaps unripe varieties of solanaceae are safe or even beneficial to eat? Isn't chuno frozen before exposed to light though? It looks like this dish arose from potato preservation techniques.

6629b9ed6548231f4774d39a0641a573

(98)

on August 16, 2013
at 03:05 PM

This is interesting... Perhaps unripe varieties of solanaceae are ancestral and safe or even beneficial to eat. Isn't chuno frozen before exposed to light though?

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 16, 2013
at 02:40 PM

I used to have to travel to Colombia and had ajiaco in Bogota. I probably garbled the story a little in translation. Ajiaco is supposed to be made with 3 kinds of potatoes, and like bouillabaisse it has to be done right. The rotten potatoes are from further south and are known as chuno, but also are key to making a special soup. This experience makes me a little intolerant of solanaceae skeptics...if highly sophisticated paleo cultures could thrive on these foods why not us?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on August 16, 2013
at 02:25 PM

Folks hypersensitive to nightshades are a tiny minority. Is this just another example of characteristics of the minority getting turned into what the majority of folks experience? For example, as much as I like Robb Wolf, I think he's very much wrong that large amounts of people are gluten-intolerant, he's projecting his problems to the population as a whole. Now, it might very well be that the majority of paleo folks are indeed gluten-intolerant, but that's simply confirmation bias at work.

6629b9ed6548231f4774d39a0641a573

(98)

on August 16, 2013
at 02:01 PM

I never died from eating wheat, either... My question was about whether they were potentially harmful relative to other nightshades, especially given how common they are. Very few people have directly died from glycoalkaloids, but the damage occurs in minor ailments like heartburn and stomach pain that would preferably be eliminated (as well as long term like arthritis). I wanted to know if was worth being wary of the differences in ripe vs unripe peppers. Sorry if the title was misleading though.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on August 16, 2013
at 01:30 PM

I don't indulge in much Andean cuisine. ;)

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 16, 2013
at 01:05 PM

Traditional andean ajaico is based on rotten potatoes, or so I've heard.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 16, 2013
at 01:03 PM

-1 for asking a rhetorical question. I'll return the favor: did you die?

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4 Answers

1
A7c1857ce53fb11a9351d05718c7070d

(283)

on August 16, 2013
at 05:57 PM

They are not necessarily unsafe to eat, but some people tend to have a higher sensitivity to nightshades (ie. people with autoimmune conditions). For me, green peppers do not make me feel very good. Indigestion and then they do not get digested properly. I do not have this problem with red, yellow, or orange peppers. As long as they are cooked fully. They all give me some symptoms when they are raw, but only green pepper give the same symptoms when they are cooked.

So, I would say that if they make you feel fine, go on and eat them. If not, then i would avoid them like me.

1
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on August 16, 2013
at 12:20 PM

Nope. They are not toxic, they don't have that high of glycoalkaloid content.

There was a previous discussion on green potatoes here on PH. Solanine deaths are extraordinarily rare. Pretty much you have to eat a significant amount of literally rotten potatoes before illness ensues. Sure you can eat the wrong part of the plant (leaves, roots, etc... not the fruit) and get a sickening dose. But nobody is going to sick from that.

I challenge you to find an example of someone dying from green peppers or green tomatoes. You'll find a couple examples of sickness, but given the millions that eat these foods daily, the rate is extraordinarily low.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on August 16, 2013
at 01:30 PM

I don't indulge in much Andean cuisine. ;)

6629b9ed6548231f4774d39a0641a573

(98)

on August 16, 2013
at 03:05 PM

This is interesting... Perhaps unripe varieties of solanaceae are ancestral and safe or even beneficial to eat. Isn't chuno frozen before exposed to light though?

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 16, 2013
at 04:10 PM

Like durianrider meets Mark Sisson on a pitch dark equatorial night...drinking agua dientes under twinkling dim lights, followed with strong coffee...if I could only go back there someday...

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 16, 2013
at 02:40 PM

I used to have to travel to Colombia and had ajiaco in Bogota. I probably garbled the story a little in translation. Ajiaco is supposed to be made with 3 kinds of potatoes, and like bouillabaisse it has to be done right. The rotten potatoes are from further south and are known as chuno, but also are key to making a special soup. This experience makes me a little intolerant of solanaceae skeptics...if highly sophisticated paleo cultures could thrive on these foods why not us?

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 16, 2013
at 04:03 PM

Or failed preservation techniques maybe. Eating ajiaco with the sophisticated Colombianos, they were probably looking down their noses at the primitive Bolivianos eating their rotten potato soup. My favorite Colombian dish was plata criolla, which with the grilled meat, fried eggs and plantains only (without the rice and beans) would make an excellent paleo feast.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 16, 2013
at 01:05 PM

Traditional andean ajaico is based on rotten potatoes, or so I've heard.

6629b9ed6548231f4774d39a0641a573

(98)

on August 16, 2013
at 03:17 PM

This is interesting... Perhaps unripe varieties of solanaceae are safe or even beneficial to eat? Isn't chuno frozen before exposed to light though? It looks like this dish arose from potato preservation techniques.

0
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on August 17, 2013
at 01:30 AM

The VAST majority of green peppers you get in the store are Permagreen Peppers. This is a specific species of sweet pepper that was cultivated to stay green. These peppers have reached full maturity and are not "unripe red ones". You can tell Permagreen from green peppers by the taste. Permagreen are sweet (like a red pepper) where as teh unripe peppers are much more bitter (and expensive).

One of the reason green peppers are cheaper than red and yellow is the fact that permagreen peppers are less likely to be eaten by animals (because they look like unripe peppers).

D67ee362e88339b3a7efc6da5a7d5b66

on April 11, 2015
at 01:56 AM

@CD How did you learn about the majority of green grocery store peppers being the Permagreen variety (as opposed to Staysgreen, red-when-ripe peppers or something else)?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on August 17, 2013
at 01:48 AM

Never had a sweet green bell pepper myself.

0
04a4f204bc2e589fa30fd31b92944549

(975)

on August 17, 2013
at 12:24 AM

I cant eat many types of hot peppers or my face and inside of nose will start to itch really bad. I guess that is from the mild toxins in it

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