What are black bell peppers exactly? Black bell peppers are simply a color variant of sweet peppers. They taste the same as regular bell peppers, the only difference being they ripen to a dark color, either dark purple or black, depending on the cultivar and age of the fruit at harvest time. There are a lot of varieties of black fruits and vegetables such as eggplants, chokeberries or aronia, or black carrots and black tomatoes. So it’s really not that difficult to believe that there can also be black bell peppers. And they can pop up in your vegetable garden just like that.
Are there really black bell peppers?
Yes, there really are black bell peppers. They are also known as black sweet peppers and go by the scientific name Capsicum annuum. Despite being more unusual-looking, black bell peppers are actually just like your regular sweet peppers, except they’re black. More exactly, they’re regular sweet peppers that ripen to black instead of the more usual colors: yellow, orange or red. You can get black bell peppers by accident, like in my case (I was trying to grow plain green and red sweet peppers). Or there are varieties of purple bell peppers especially bred to ripen to a dark purple-black color you can grow, such as Purple Beauty. Although some people consider these to be purple bell peppers, not black (the terminology has yet to be defined properly).
What do black bell peppers look like?
There are a few ways they can look throughout the ripening process. For example, the Purple Beauty starts off green, turns dark purple-black when ripe, but retains green flesh. The Merlot is green at first; then, as it ripens, it turns whitish, then purple and finally a dark purple-black, while maintaining green flesh. If you pick them too soon, they may be purple with green or a lighter shade of purple instead of almost black. My sweet peppers didn’t turn completely black, as you can see in the pictures below. They had both green and black skin and green flesh. Some turned almost completely black, others were more green than black, but I also didn’t let them ripen completely because I was itching to eat them. What I found interesting was that my black sweet peppers came from the exact same plants that gave me green and red peppers all summer long.
What do black bell peppers taste like?
I can’t tell you what all varieties taste like, but I can tell you what my black bell peppers tasted like: bitter and green, just like regular green bell peppers. What I liked about them was they had a pleasant crisp flesh and a strong peppery smell.
Nutrition facts and benefits
Black bell peppers nutrition includes a good content of vitamin K and vitamin B6 (over 5% and over 15% of daily requirements) and modest amounts of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B9, vitamin E (mostly in the seeds), calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc (on average, 5% of daily requirements and lower). Other notable nutritional facts include a high vitamin C content, with 100 g of the botanical fruit providing almost 100% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C for an average adult.
Black bell peppers are just green bell peppers with really dark purple or black skin. So the nutrition of black bell peppers is the nutrition of green bell peppers, with the exception of the difference in skin color which determines differences in antioxidant profile. As such, black bell peppers are richest in antioxidant anthocyanins, naturally-occurring plant pigments responsible for red, blue, purple and black colors in our food. They are also an important source of chlorophyll, essentially a green antioxidant, and contain small amounts of flavonoids such as the flavone luteolin, and carotenoid antioxidants such as beta-carotene, but also alpha-carotene and beta-Cryptoxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin.
What are black bell peppers good for?
- Antioxidant properties: anthocyanin antioxidants, chlorophyll, carotenoids such as beta-carotene and flavanoids such as luteolin scavenge free radicals and prevent damage to cells. Vitamins C, E, copper, iron, manganese, zinc and other micro-nutrients also hold antioxidant activity.
- Anti-inflammatory effects from antioxidant anthocyanins, chlorophyll, carotenoids and vitamins C and K.
- Anti-aging properties from vitamin C: vitamin C stimulates the production of collagen in the skin, contributing to skin elasticity, wrinkle prevention and a more youthful appearance.
- Good for the immune system thanks to vitamin C and zinc, copper, iron and manganese which boosts the immune system function.
- Black peppers are good for skin health thanks to vitamin C which promotes collagen synthesis for skin elasticity, vitamin B6 which helps prevent skin inflammation, vitamin E which acts as an antioxidant and protects skin from oxidative stress.
- Anti-bleeding properties from vitamin K which promotes normal blood coagulation and vitamin C which maintains blood vessel elasticity.
- Benefits for the brain and nervous system from vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B9.
- Good for anemia thanks to vitamin B6 which is important for heme synthesis (a component of hemoglobin, the part of red blood cells that contains iron), vitamin B9 which helps with the production of healthy red blood cells and vitamin C which optimizes iron absorption.
- Minor benefits for lowering high blood pressure: thanks to an extremely low sodium content (3 mg, which equals 0% of daily intake), modest potassium content (175 mg, or 4% of daily requirements) and equally modest magnesium content (10 mg, or 3% of daily requirements).
- Good for weight loss: low in calories (20 kcal per 100 g), carbohydrates (4.6 g of carbs per 100 g), fat (less than 0.2 g of fat per 100 g).
What are the side effects?
The side effects of eating black bell peppers are the same as for other sweet pepper colors and may include:
- Risk of allergic reaction with the potential for anaphylactic shock (statistically, a bell pepper allergy is less likely compared to other more common food allergies such as eggs, soy, milk, nuts etc.).
- Indigestion: although not likely, it can occur in people sensitive to the aromatic compounds in sweet bell peppers. Also see these 7 side effects of hot chili peppers.
- Heartburn and acid reflux: a side effect seen particularly in GERD or acid reflux disease and gastritis sufferers, for which black, green and other peppers are a trigger food.
Find out more about what foods to eat and to avoid for gastritis.
Sometimes the reason why your green peppers are turning black on the plant is because they’re diseased. Wilted or thin areas of flesh, leathery or mushy brown, black, yellow or discolored spots indicate disease. A lot of times, the diseased areas appear unhealthy and you simply don’t want to eat the fruit after just taking a look at it. But sometimes, the reason why your green peppers are turning black is because they’re just ripening to a different color. Bell peppers and all varieties of sweet and spicy peppers don’t just come in the traditional four colors: green, yellow, orange and red. They’re also pale yellow, almost white, brown, lavender, chocolate, purple and black, one or more colors, with streaks and color spots. A lot of peppers go through multiple color changes during their ripening process, so unless they look and taste funny, spoilt or rotten, then they should be okay to eat – just a different color than you might have expected, but just as healthy, if not healthier.