When it comes to peppers, the heat factor is everything. Some peppers, like bell peppers, have a sweet, crispy taste, while others, like jalapenos, cause a tingling sensation.
Then, there is the pepperoncini, a kind of chili pepper with a flavor profile that combines spiciness and sweetness. Pepperoncini are a staple of the Mediterranean diet, especially well-liked in Italy and Greece, referred to as friggitello and peperone.
Now, you may want to know, is pepperoncini good for you? Let’s find out.
High in Vitamin C, pepperoncini is a family-friendly way to add a hint of spice to most dishes. Neither a banana pepper nor quite a hot pepper, pepperoncini is in a league of its own—sweet like a mild pepper, but with a little kick to it as well.
Since its taste is a compromise between the two, pepperoncini peppers are a popular ingredient in various recipes. Before getting to the nitty-gritty of whether pepperoncini is good for you, let’s uncover the fascinating origins of these Golden Greeks.
Origins of Pepperoncini
Scientifically known as capsicum annuum, pepperoncini is the spicy subset of the pepper family, often referred to as peperoncino (one less p), friggitello, Tuscan, sweet Italian, or golden Greek.
Pepperoncini most likely arrived in Italy after Christopher Columbus brought samples of spices from the New World to Europe in 1492.
Before being used in Italian cuisine, the pepperoncini was first thought of as an ornamental or decorative veggie that could potentially be toxic.
Pepperoncini gained widespread popularity as a meal long before its usage was documented in any famous cookbooks because these recipes were created for the higher classes; however, only the lower class preferred the peperoncino.
In 1568, Pietro Andrea Mattioli was the first to describe pepperoncini by highlighting how it was spicier than other Asian pepper kinds. The usage of peperoncino preserved in print for all this time may be traced back to 1694, when an Italian chef named Antonio Latini mentioned pepperoncini as an important ingredient in his world-famous recipe: Salsa Alla Spagnola.
Pepperoncini Fast Facts
|Scoville Heat Units (SHU)||100 – 500|
|Median Heat (SHU)||300|
|Jalapeño Reference Point||5 to 80 Times Milder|
|Size||2 to 3 Inches, Tapered|
Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Pepperoncini
With a slight tip of the pepper scale needle – only 100 to 500 Scoville heat units – pepperoncini is a popular (and family-friendly) way to add a touch of spice as it’s commonly pickled and then used in sandwiches, salads, and condiments such as bomba calabrese.
However, did you know pepperoncini peppers, besides having a deliciously sweet/spicy taste, hold an abundance of nutritional value? Let’s find out what makes this spicy pepper tick.
Calories and Macronutrients
With a maximum of three calories, you don’t have to feel bad about adding pepperoncini peppers to whatever food you prepare. Carbohydrates are the primary energy source metabolized into glucose, accounting for almost all calories.
Glucose is used as an energy source by every cell in your body, including the cells in your brain. Even though pepperoncini peppers have low levels of protein and fat, those macronutrients constitute only a fraction of the pepperoncini’s total calorie content.
Iron and Calcium
According to the Linus Pauling Institute, men need just 8 milligrams of iron daily. However, women require an astounding 18 milligrams. (1) Both iron and calcium may be found in the peppers in trace amounts.
Calcium, as you probably well know, is necessary to develop healthy bones and teeth. When it comes to oxygen delivery to cells, having sufficient iron levels in the blood is necessary. As a result, the pepperoncini contributes to maintaining healthy bones and blood vessels.
Pepperoncini can be consumed fresh; however, you will usually find them packed in brine. Since they are often pickled, the peppers are preserved by being packed in a large quantity of salt.
To keep your fluid levels at a regular limit, your body needs some salt. This function is necessary for the heartbeat, the contraction of muscles, and the signaling between the nerves.
However, if you suffer from hypertension or are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, the high salt level may give you cause for worry.
Vitamin A and C
Vitamin A and C may be found in Pepperoncini in high concentrations. Vitamin C mitigates the damage caused by free radicals to cells and wards off chronic illnesses.
Additionally, it stimulates the production of new cells, expedites wound healing, and fortifies the immune system.
On the other hand, Vitamin A helps preserve vision and maintains the health and vitality of the skin. These vitamins are key in several metabolic processes, making pepperoncini a good choice for your next salad.
Since it is a thermogenic agent (produces heat), capsaicin speeds up the body’s fat-burning process by increasing the metabolism of the already present fatty tissues.
As a result, it encourages weight reduction while reducing the chance of a heart attack or stroke.
Capsaicin causes the death of prostate cancer cells but does not harm normal cells in any way (during chemotherapy and radiation, healthy cells are also killed). (2)
Pain relief for arthritis and tired muscles is one of capsaicin’s many benefits.
Apart from vitamins and minerals, Pepperoncini peppers are an excellent source of the dietary fiber necessary to move food through the digestive system.
Since fiber also adds weight to meals, a diet with a suitable amount of dietary fiber will help you consume less calorie-rich foods, which is essential for weight reduction. The serving size of pepperoncini peppers, 30 grams, contains 1 gram of fiber, equal to 4 percent of the amount of fiber you should consume daily.
Jarred pepperoncini peppers have a somewhat high salt content, ranging from 360 to 390 milligrams per serving. The American Heart Association suggests limiting sodium consumption to 1,500 milligrams daily; however, research presented at the American Society of Nephrology’s 2010 Annual Meeting and Scientific Exhibition warned that too little salt in the diet might also cause problems. (3,4)
For example, adults with lower salt consumption can have a higher risk of bone fractures. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the daily sodium consumption should be less than 2,300 (mg), equivalent to 1 tsp for adults, while a daily salt intake of 1,500 (mg) is recommended for children ages 1-3, 1,900 (mg) for 4-8, and 2,300 (mg) for adolescents aged 14 and beyond. (5)
Frequently Asked Questions
Read on to find the answers to your questions regarding pepperoncini.
What is Pepperoncini?
The pepperoncini pepper is a kind of spicy chili pepper mostly used in the culinary traditions of Italy and Greece, providing a touch of heat to the dish without overpowering it with its spiciness.
It belongs to the species Capsicum annum and has a coloration between yellow and green. Pepperoncini peppers are often eaten as a pickled pepper, typically sold in commercially available jars containing oil for preservation; however, they may be eaten either fresh or dried according to your preference.
Are Pepperoncini Good for You?
Yes, pepperoncini is a nutritious food choice rich in vitamin A and C, calcium, iron, and macronutrients.
These peppers are beneficial to your health and perfectly safe to eat, provided you are not sensitive to spice or salty food.
Commonly, pepperoncini peppers are commonly consumed in pickled form; they are kept in oil and have a high salt content with a relatively low-calorie count.
Therefore, if you have hypertension (high blood pressure), stay away from pickled pepperoncini.
How Spicy is Pepperoncini Pepper?
The flavor of peppers may range anywhere from subtly sweet to hot and peppery. The level of capsaicin in peppers is directly proportional to how hot they are since capsaicin is the molecule responsible for giving peppers their typical heat.
On the Scoville scale, pepperoncini peppers record between 100 to 500 units, making them less spicy, popular, and family-friendly compared to other types of hot peppers available in the veggie market.
Pepperoncini vs Banana Pepper
The heat, appearance, and flavor are three extremely significant ways these two kinds of peppers vary.
The pepperoncini and the banana pepper are both often thought of as sweet peppers, although the banana pepper has a very little edge in terms of sweetness. Compared to banana peppers, pepperoncini are often characterized by a higher degree of astringency.
Some people have even reported tasting a trace of bitterness in certain pepperoncini, particularly the Italian kind.
The Final Cut
So there you have it; your answer to the question, is pepperoncini good for you.
After breaking down pepperoncini’s nutritional value and health benefits, it can be easily said that this hot pepper ticks all the boxes.
From calories and macronutrients to vitamins, minerals, and more—this flavorful, spicy, and sweet staple of the Mediterranean diet is definitely in a league of its own. The only drawback of pepperoncini is its high sodium content.
Therefore, instead of consuming it in pickled form, add it raw to your diet.