African Bird Pepper is a small but potent chili native to Africa. It is also known as African Bird’s Eye Pepper, Peri-Peri or African Red Pepper. This fiery little chili is renowned for its vibrant red color and intense heat. It has been a staple in African and Portuguese cuisines for generations, lending its bold flavor to various dishes.
The name “Peri-Peri” comes from the Swahili word for “pepper-pepper,” a nod to its spiciness. When you incorporate African Bird Pepper into your cooking, you’re in a mouthwatering experience. Its fiery heat adds a unique dimension to sauces, marinades, and grilled dishes, making it a favorite among spice enthusiasts worldwide.
- Family: Solanaceae
- Genus: Capsicum
- Species: Frutescens
- Common Name: African Bird Pepper, African Red Pepper, Peri-Peri
African Bird Pepper is a small, perennial shrub or herb. It has a height of almost 1.5 meters. The leaves are lance-shaped, glossy, and green.
The plant produces small, white to greenish-white flowers with five petals
The fruit of the African Bird Pepper is a small, elongated pod. The pods start green and mature to red or orange. They are very pungent and are used as a spice.
African Bird Pepper has a bushy growth habit. It often has a high branching pattern.
These are the key botanical features of the African Bird Pepper, which is known for its spiciness and its role in various culinary traditions.
This pepper is native to tropical and subtropical regions of Africa. It is commonly found in countries like Mozambique, South Africa, and Malawi.
African Bird Pepper Health Benefits
This fiery and small-sized African bird pepper is commonly employed to infuse heat and flavor into a variety of dishes, side by side we can also get African bird pepper health benefits.
You may remember that while African Bird Pepper health benefits can be experienced, they may not be suitable for everyone. Its impact can vary depending on individual tolerance and health conditions.
Always consult with a healthcare professional before making significant dietary changes or using Capsaicin based products for medicinal purposes.
Nutritional Components Found In African Bird Pepper
African bird pepper isn’t typically consumed in large quantities, so its nutrient contributions are relatively modest. It’s often used as a spice, adding vibrant, fiery flavor to dishes while offering a bit of nutritional value. Its importance lies in enhancing taste profiles with its fiery kick.
Carbohydrates are energy-providing nutrients found in foods like African bird pepper. While specific percentages can vary, these peppers typically contain around 5-10% carbohydrates. They provide the energy needed for daily activities.
Proteins are essential for growth and repair of the body. African bird pepper contains a small amount of protein, usually around 1-2%. While not a significant source, every bit contributes to overall nutrition.
Vitamin A: It helps maintain healthy vision, skin, and immune function. African bird pepper contains a moderate amount of vitamin A.
Vitamin C: It is important for a healthy immune system. These peppers are a good source of vitamin C, offering a decent percentage of the recommended daily intake.
Vitamin B Complex
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
It supports energy metabolism. African bird peppers contain a low percentage of thiamine.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
It helps the body break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to produce energy. African bird peppers have a low percentage of riboflavin.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
It is essential for energy production and metabolism. They contain a small amount of niacin.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
It aids in energy production and the synthesis of hormones. Usually found in minimal amounts in these peppers.
It helps with brain development and function, as well as the production of neurotransmitters. African bird peppers contain a small percentage of vitamin B6.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
It is essential for metabolism and typically found in trace amounts in these peppers.
Vitamin B9 (Folate)
It is important for cell division and the production of DNA. These peppers contain a small amount of folate.
Please note that while African Bird Pepper contains certain vitamins, the concentrations in the pepper may not be significant enough to serve as a primary culinary, and the potential health benefits. It is still a topic of study.
It helps regulate blood pressure and muscle function. African bird pepper contains some potassium.
It is important for making red blood cells. While not a very high source, these peppers do contain a small amount of iron.
Phytochemical Compounds Found in African Bird Pepper
It is a chili pepper primarily found in Africa. Its bioactive compounds contribute to various biological activities within the human body, potentially offering African bird pepper health benefits.
Capsaicin is responsible for the spicy heat in peppers. In medical terms, it is known for its analgesic properties and is used topically in the form of creams and patches to relieve pain, such as in arthritis or neuropathic conditions.
These compounds, including capsaicin, have been studied for their potential in weight management, as they can increase metabolism and reduce appetite.
Vitamins (e.g., Vitamin C)
Vitamins in African Bird Pepper contribute to overall health. Vitamin C, for instance, supports the immune system, wound healing and collagen production. Its performance is also seen as an antioxidant.
Research has suggested the following pattern of vitamins in pepper foliage:
Flavonoids are antioxidants that can help protect cells from damage and reduce inflammation.
Some alkaloids in African Bird Pepper may have mild analgesic properties and can affect nerve function.
Minerals (e.g., Potassium)
Minerals like potassium are essential for maintaining proper electrolyte balance in the body.
This compound is responsible for the oiliness and pungency of the pepper and is often used in pepper spray for self-defense due to its irritant properties.
African Bird Pepper contains various fatty acids, which can have roles in energy production and cellular function.
These compounds have antioxidant properties and may play a role in protecting cells from oxidative stress.
Terpenoids have diverse functions in plants and might contribute to the flavor and aroma of African Bird Pepper.
Proteins and Enzymes
Some proteins and enzymes in the pepper may have enzymatic activities or other functions.
Carotenoids (e.g., Beta-Carotene)
African Bird Pepper may contain a moderate amount of beta-carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A. Vitamin A helps maintain eye health, immune system, and proper working of the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
Review/Research Work on African Bird Pepper
African Bird’s Eye pepper has been the subject of some research. Most of the research focuses on its culinary and medicinal properties, as well as its potential for agriculture. However, the extent of research on this pepper may vary, and more extensive studies may be needed to fully understand its properties and potential benefits.
The research has covered aspects like its chemical composition, heat level (measured in Scoville Heat Units), and potential health effects due to the capsaicin content, which is known to have various health-related implications.
Research Regarding Antioxidant Property
An antioxidant property of African Bird Pepper along with some other herbs, was proved in research conducted at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The research suggested that “varieties presented the highest content in bioactive compounds also presented the greatest antioxidant activity. BRC > CCP > OBE > OH. The presence of significant amounts of TPC and TFC in fruit extracts highly contributed to high antioxidant activity of the sample extracts.”
Journal of Biological Research
Bio-Research Vol. 21 No.2; pp. 2019-2030 (2023). ISSN (print):1596-7409; eISSN (online):2705-3822
Research Regarding Vitamins
The research was conducted to differentiate the nutrient and phytochemical contents of the pepper foliage. The results indicated a significant difference (p<0.05). The African bird pepper having compounds like alkaloids, flavonoids, and phenols was also included in this pepper foliage. (Source)
Possible Side Effects
Although it’s generally safe for consumption, yet using it in excess or for some individuals can lead to side effects. Some possible side effects may include:
Handling the pepper without gloves can lead to skin irritation, including burning and itching, due to the Capsaicin.
Some individuals may be allergic to Capsaicin, and consuming African bird pepper could trigger allergic symptoms such as hives, itching, or swelling.
Inhaling the fumes of cooking with this pepper can irritate the respiratory system, causing coughing and nasal congestion.
Exacerbating Health Conditions:
For people with certain health conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or ulcers, the spiciness of African bird pepper may worsen their symptoms.
Increased Heart Rate:
Capsaicin can temporarily raise the heart rate and increase blood pressure in some individuals.
It will be better to consult with a healthcare professional if you are on medication and plan to incorporate African bird pepper into your diet.
It’s pertinent to use this pepper in moderation, especially if you are not accustomed to spicy foods. You should consult a healthcare provider if you are facing certain side effects. Additionally, people with known allergies to chili peppers or a history of digestive issues should exercise caution when consuming African bird pepper.
African Bird Pepper is the common name of an elongated pod being used as a pungent spice fruit yielded from Capsicum frutescent, a small perennial shrub with lenced and glossy Green leaves.
Its origin is tropical and subtropical regions of Africa. It has culinary and medicinal uses.
The uses include fiery and spicy flavors to the African as well as Portuguese cuisines and as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, for cancer prevention, pain relief, hurt health, weight management etc. Its excess quantity of use or for some individuals sensitive to it, may be affected adversely.