Yitzhak Sagol, Health Ministry d-g Prof. Arnon Afek, Donor Sami Sagol, Dr. Shai Efrati and Dr. Benny Davidson..
(photo credit: YOFI SHEL YERAKOT)
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Israelis may soon be eyeing a different kind of chocolate – in the crunchy and robustly nutritious form of a pepper.
The “chocolate-colored pepper” is currently being cultivated at Moshav Ein Yahav’s Yofi Shel Yerakot (Beauty of Vegetables) company, in conjunction with Hebrew University researcher Dr. Yonatan Elkind. Exhibiting a sweet taste and strong aroma, the new peppers combine the nutritional benefits of both green and red peppers, the company said.
During the ripening process of the red pepper – in which the vegetable turns from green to red – chlorophyll gives way to carotenoids (organic pigments found in vegetables), causing the red color, explained Rami Sade, an agronomist for Yofi Shel Yerakot.
In the chocolate-colored pepper, however, the chlorophyll does not break down and instead thrives simultaneously with the carotenoids, he said. As both chlorophyll and carotenoids have healthful properties, their integration leads to great advantages, Sade said.
Carotenoids are important to the health of human eyes, skin and mucous membranes, as well as digestive and immune systems, according to the company. With potent antioxidant properties, carotenoids may contribute to cancer prevention, some studies have shown.
Chlorophyll, meanwhile, is considered an important ingredient in alternative medicine, due to its healing capacity. Some of the benefits of the pigment, the company explained, include body odor improvements, better vision, pain relief, boosts in iron, detoxification and menstrual cycle regulation.
While the peppers have not yet reached large supermarket chains, they are available at some smaller private stores, a spokesman for the company said. The peppers cost roughly the same price as other colored peppers, he added.