Bulgarian carrot peppers are an heirloom variety of orange chili or chile pepper from Bulgaria. With a mild to moderate heat score and a fruity pepper taste, the variety is a natural source of pungent capsaicinoid components such as capsaicin with analgesic properties and anticancer activity. High in pro-vitamin A carotene antioxidants such as beta-carotene, Bulgarian carrot peppers are good for eyesight, supporting visual acuity and color vision, and reducing risks of cataract and age-related macular degeneration. The peppers are low-glycemic and low-calorie and have anti-inflammatory, wound healing and immune-boosting benefits.
What do Bulgarian carrot peppers look like?
Bulgarian carrot peppers are 8-10 cm long chili peppers of a bright orange color when ripe. While the typical Bulgarian chili pepper is bright orange when ripe, there are also yellow varieties. The peppers are somewhat thick, and taper to a pointy end, either straight or slightly curved. With a smooth, glossy, colorful skin and a crunchy, flavorful flesh on the thinner side, Bulgarian carrot peppers are a great roasting and frying pepper. Inside, attached to the end with the stem, there is a white spongy pith to which numerous white, flattened seeds are attached.
What do Bulgarian carrot peppers taste like?
Bulgarian carrot peppers have a unique taste: fruity flavors and mild to moderate heat, with a pungency level ranging from that of a jalapeno to a serrano pepper. The variety belongs to the Capsicum annuum species which makes the peppers botanical fruit, but culinary vegetables. The peppers are crunchy, spicy and fruity at the same time, but the pungency is impacted significantly by growing conditions which means that some Bulgarian peppers may carry more heat than others. Find out more about Bulgarian carrot peppers and their appearance, taste and Scoville scale heat score.
Bulgarian carrot peppers nutrition
There is very little research on the nutrition of Bulgarian carrot peppers specifically, so nutritional information is inferred from available data on the nutrition of related chili peppers. What is known about the nutrition of Bulgarian carrot peppers is the fact that they are one of the best food sources of orange carotenes such as beta-carotene, and thus have significant vitamin A activity. Other antioxidants in Bulgarian carrot peppers include alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin (carotenes), lutein, zeaxanthin (xanthophyll carotenoids) and chlorophyll in the green, unripe fruit. Compared to yellow varieties, orange peppers such as Bulgarian carrot peppers are overall higher in carotenoid antioxidants with various degrees of vitamin A activity.
Other than this, Bulgarian carrot peppers are low-calorie (around 40 kcal/100g), very low-fat (0.4 g) and low-protein (1.9 g), a moderate source of carbs (8-9 g), sugar (5 g) and dietary fiber (1.5 g). They are a good source of the plant form of vitamin A (around 10% of recommended daily intake, RDI), vitamin C (150% to 200%), vitamin B6 (around 40%), iron, magnesium and potassium (6% to 8%). The peppers are essentially sodium-free, low-glycemic and a source of bioactive capsaicin and other capsaicinoids. Bulgarian carrot pepper seeds contain small amounts of vitamin E and capsaicin and other pungent capsaicinoids.
What are the benefits?
In the amount they are meant to be consumed (because they are chili peppers, intake is fairly limited), Bulgarian carrot peppers are not a source of substantial nutritional value, although they do contribute to measurable benefits for health such as:
- Benefits for weight loss. Low in calories, fat and sugar, Bulgarian chili peppers are a good food to include in your diet if you are looking to lose weight.
- Low-glycemic food. With a low glycemic index score of around 20, Bulgarian carrot peppers have minimal effects on blood sugar and are a diabetes-safe food.
- Good for eyesight. Bulgarian carrot peppers are a good source of pro-vitamin A carotenes with benefits for visual acuity, color vision and low-light vision, also known as night-vision.
- Benefits for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) from pigmented lutein and zeaxanthin antioxidants which studies show halt progression to advanced forms and reduce risks.
- Lower risks of cataract. Studies show pigmented lutein and zeaxanthin antioxidants in Bulgarian carrot peppers have protective effects, lowering cataract risks (source 1, source 2).
- Anti-inflammatory benefits thanks to a high content of vitamin C and bioactive polyphenols.
- Immune system boosting effects thanks to a high content of vitamin C, pro-vitamin A carotenes and colorless antioxidants.
- Anti-aging benefits: high amounts of vitamin C in Bulgarian carrot peppers boost production of collagen for improves skin elasticity, fewer wrinkles and a more youthful skin.
- Benefits for faster wound healing thanks to pro-vitamin A which supports skin renewal processes and protects skin and mucous membranes and vitamin C which has an antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and regenerative action.
- Benefits for anemia owed to a generous content of vitamin B6 and iron which contribute to the synthesis of hemoglobin and the production of healthy red blood cells.
- Benefits for high blood pressure: Bulgarian carrot peppers are sodium free and a good source of dietary potassium and magnesium to help lower high blood pressure.
- Minor benefits for diabetes-associated retinopathy (eye damage) and neuropathy (nerve damage).
- Anticancer properties owed to pungent capsaicinoid components such as capsaicin which studies show can act as a cancer preventive agent and exhibits wide applications against various types of cancer (source 1, source 2).
- Mild analgesic properties resulting from the topical application of the peppers.
What are the side effects?
A reasonable, infrequent intake of Bulgarian carrot peppers, or other chili peppers, is unlikely to produce side effects, unless the person is allergic to the fruit. With the exception of allergic reactions, the side effects associated with consumption of Bulgarian carrot peppers are, for the most part, a result of excessive intake.
- Digestive upset with acid reflux. Symptoms may include: heartburn, burping, a bad taste in the mouth that can be metallic, acidic or sour, bad breath, regurgitation of stomach juices, stomach pain, bloating, excessive burping, hiccups, nausea, vomiting and loose stools.
- GERD flareup. GERD is the digestive condition that causes acid reflux and can be triggered by eating spicy foods such as Bulgarian carrot peppers.
- Gastritis flareup. Gastritis is the inflammation of the stomach lining and can be made worse by consumption of spicy foods, among other foods that are bad for gastritis.
- Hemorrhoids flareup. Spicy foods such as Bulgarian carrot peppers can flare up hemorrhoids when eaten in excess and cause swelling, bleeding, discomfort and pain.
- Allergic reactions. It is possible to be allergic to Bulgarian carrot peppers or chili peppers in general, or both sweet and spicy peppers. If this is the case, avoid consumption in all forms and preparations.
- Asthma attack. Eating too many Bulgarian carrot peppers or chile peppers in general can cause acid reflux. The regurgitation of stomach juices can trigger an asthma episode in those with the condition.