Nutrient Composition of Two Varieties of Pepper (Chilli and Cherry Pepper)
Objectives of the Study
The objective of this study is to examine the nutrient properties of two varieties of pepper (“Chili pepper” [Capsicum annum Varlongum] and “Cherry pepper” (Capsicum annum Varceraciforme) and available in Ondo State.
CLASSIFICATION AND TAXONOMY OF PEPPER
Capsicum (chilies and other peppers) belong to family Solanaceae (tribe Solaneae, subtribeCapsicinae), which also includes other economically important crops such as tomato, potato and tobacco (Dias et al., 2013). They consist of annual or perennial herbs or shrubs and are native to South and Central America and the Galapagos (Walsh and Hoot, 2001). They are predominantly diploid (2n=24, infrequently 2n=26), except for a few (Moscone et al., 2003). The genus Capsicum can be grouped into different categories based on the ability of members to successfully interbreed. These include Annuum, made up of the species C. annuum (varieties glabriusculum and annuum), C. frutescens, C. chinense, C. chacoense and C.galapagoensis; the baccatum group which consists of the species C. baccatum (varieties baccatum, pendulum and praetermissum) and finally C. tovari, and the pubescens group which is also made up of the species C. cardenasii, C. eximium and C. pubescens (Pickersgill, 1997).
The genus has five major domesticated species of which C. annuum is the most widely cultivated species worldwide (Andrews, 2004). Pepper, though a self-pollinated crop has been considered as a cross-pollinated crop as a result of its high rate of out crossing which ranges from 7 to 90% (Allard, 2000). Natural inter-specific crosses among Capsicum species are very high, resulting in intermediary forms which are complex to categorize (Allard, 2000). As a result, C annuum, C chinense and C frutescens have been considered as one species (C annuun L.) with four variety classes (Nsabiyera et al., 2013). These are the West Indies chili (chinense group), bird chili (frutescens group), hot chili (annuum group) and sweet pepper group.
Morphology and Growth of Pepper
Capsicum is a highly heterogeneous plant which exhibits considerable morphological variation, especially in fruit shape, colour, and size (Walsh and Hoot, 2001). Pubescence of leaves and stems range from glabrous to very pubescent. Pepper produces bisexual flowers which are borne at the intersection between the stem and leaves at points where the stem splits into a fork. The inflorescences may vary from solitary to seven flowers at one node (Berke, 2000). The calyx may range from long, green sepals to truncate sepals to spine-like projections. The pedicel length varies among cultivars, ranging from 3 to 8 cm (Berke, 2000). In the species C. annuum the petals are usually white with five to seven individual stamens which vary in colour from pale blue to purple anthers. Shaw and Khan (2008) observed greenish-white corolla in C. frutescens and added that corolla colour is one of the most consistent features of distinguishing Capsicum species.
The pistil is made up of an ovary, which contains two to four carpels or locules, and a stigma borne at the tip of a slender style (Berke, 2000). The length of the style and relative position of the stigma and the anthers vary among genotypes, and it is an important factor determining the level of natural cross pollinations of the flowers. The flower colour, shape, length and relative positions of the styles also vary with different species and cultivars. The fruits are, botanically, classified as berries with different varieties of shapes, colours and sizes that vary among cultivars. Seeds are cream coloured, except for C. pubescens which has black seeds (Berke, 2000).
Importance of Pepper
Pepper is a vital commercial crop, cultivated for vegetable, spice, and value-added processed products (Kumar and Rai, 2005). Besides vitamins A and C, the fruits contain mixtures of antioxidants notably carotenoids, ascorbic acid, flavanoids and polyphenols (Nadeem et al., 2011). This makes it a very important constituent of many foods, adding flavour, colour and pungency and, hence, an important source of nutrition for humans. Peppers can be used whole, chopped or in various processed forms such as fresh, dried and ground into powder (with or without the seeds), or as an extract. In most advanced countries, the fresh fruits can be processed into paste and bottled for sale in supermarkets. In Ghana, a popular pepper sauce, shito is widely used by students, campers and even for export. Pepper can also be used medically for the treatment of fevers and colds (Norman, 2002).
Bell pepper, being a very rich source of vitamins A, C, B6, folic acid and beta-carotene, provides excellent nutrition for humans (Nadeem et al., 2011). Antioxidant compounds present in the different colours (green, yellow, orange, and red) in sweet bell peppers give them an antioxidative potential which helps protect the body from oxidative damage induced by free radicals when consumed (Simmone et al., 1997). This reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, asthma, sore throat, headache and diabetes. Red pepper on the other hand contains lycopene which is believed to possess anti-cancer properties (Simmone et al., 1997). It is also used by the security agencies in the preparation of tear gas for crowd control.
As a commercial crop, pepper was ranked as the second valuable vegetable crop ahead of popular vegetables like okra and egg-plant with an estimated total production of 88,000 metric tons in 2011 which was valued at $96,397 (FAOSTAT, 2011). Agronomically, different pepper genotypes have been found to show differential responses to Egyptian broomrape, a chlorophyll-lacking root-parasite in Egypt. Hence, the crop is used as a catch/trap crop to reduce field infestation of the parasite (Hershenhorn et al., 2006).
Notwithstanding the numerous advantages, the crop still remains a neglected crop that is of rare national priority in terms of agricultural development in many countries (FAO, 2010).
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Three varieties of pepper (Cherry pepper (Capsicum annum Varceraciforme) and “Chili pepper” [Capsicum annum Varlongum]) were purchased in main market in Owo, Ondo State. The two varieties of pepper were subjected to vitamins and mineral analysis in chemistry laboratory in Department of Food Science and Technology of Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo, Ondo State
Mineral analyses were determined using AOAC (2005) methods with slight modifications. About 0.5 g of the sample was weighed into a 250 ml beaker. Twenty five ml (25 ml) of concentrated nitric acid was added and the beaker covered with a watch glass. The sample was digested with great care on a hot plate in a fume chamber until the solution was pale yellow. The solution was cooled and 1 ml perchloric acid (70% HCLO4) added. The digestion was continued until the solution was colorless or nearly so (the evaluation of dense white fumes was regarded to be indicative of the removal of nitric acid). When the digestion was completed, the solution was cooled slightly and 30 ml of distilled water added. The mixture was brought to boil for about 10 min and filtered hot into a 100 ml volumetric flask using filter paper. The solution was then made to the mark with distilled water.
RESULTS AND DICUSSIONS
Table 4.1: Vitamin content of cherry and chilli pepper
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The main purpose of this research work is to investigate the vitamins and minerals composition of two varieties of pepper (chilli and cherry pepper). From the results it was concluded that chilli pepper has higher vitamins (Vitamin A and B (B1 and B2)) and mineral composition than cherry pepper.
More research should be conducted on how to retain the vitamin and mineral composition of chilli and cherry pepper during processing.
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