Bell peppers (Capsicum annuum) are fruits that belong to the nightshade family.
They are related to chili peppers, tomatoes, and breadfruit, all of which are native to Central and South America.
Also called sweet peppers or capsicums, bell peppers can be eaten either raw or cooked.
Like their close relatives, chili peppers, bell peppers are sometimes dried and powdered. In that case, they are referred to as paprika.
They are low in calories and exceptionally rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants, making them an excellent addition to a healthy diet.
Bell peppers come in various colors, such as red, yellow, orange, and green — which are unripe.
Green, unripe peppers have a slightly bitter flavor and are not as sweet as fully ripe ones.
This article tells you everything you need to know about peppers.
Red, Orange, and Yellow Bell Peppers are full of great health benefits—they’re packed with vitamins and low in calories! They are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. Bell Peppers also contain a healthy dose of fiber, folate, and iron.
Fresh, raw bell peppers are mainly composed of water (92%). The rest is carbs and small amounts of protein and fat.
The main nutrients in 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of raw, red bell peppers are:
- Sugar: 4.2 grams
- Fiber: 2.1 grams
- Fat: 0.3 grams
- Calories: 31
- Water: 92%
- Protein: 1 gram
- Carbs: 6 grams
Health BenefitsBell peppers are low in calories and high in nutrients, including several important vitamins. A one-cup serving of chopped green bell pepper contains 120 milligrams of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron and heal wounds. It may also play a role in preventing a variety of health conditions, including heart disease and cancer.
May reduce the likelihood of anaemiaA common condition especially among women and girls of reproductive age, anaemia is the result of a lack of oxygen in the blood. One of the commonest causes being iron deficiency. Bell peppers contribute modest amounts of iron but are remarkably rich in vitamin C, half a pepper supplying as much as 100mg. This is significant because vitamin C increases the absorption of iron in the gut and numerous studies confirm that diets high in vitamin C-rich fruit and vegetables results in a greater iron uptake. Bell peppers help further because they contain vitamin B6 which is needed to make haemoglobin, the protein which carries oxygen around the body.
May reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degenerationNutrition plays an important part in delaying the development of age-related sight loss. In particular, two carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin, when eaten in sufficient amounts, appear to improve eye health. They do this by protecting the retina from oxidative damage. Red peppers are especially rich in these carotenoids, as well as other protective nutrients such as vitamin C. Numerous studies suggest that regularly eating foods rich in carotenoids and especially lutein and zeaxanthin, may cut the risk of both cataracts and macular degeneration.
May delay age-related memory lossInteresting findings from animal studies suggest that bell pepper consumption may be effective in preventing memory loss in those with Alzheimer’s. Compounds in ripe peppers appear to inhibit an enzyme which releases amyloid proteins – these are the proteins responsible for accumulating around nerve fibres and contributing to the risk of Alzheimer’s. Subsequent research suggests that it’s possibly the many plant compounds in peppers including phenols, carotenoids and flavonoids which may be responsible for these findings.
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May protect against certain chronic diseasesBell peppers are rich in antioxidants, which are associated with better health and protection against conditions like heart disease and cancer. For instance, peppers are especially rich in antioxidant vitamins including vitamins C, E and beta-carotene. They also supply bountiful amounts of polyphenols, these protective plant compounds include lutein, quercetin and capsanthin, the latter being especially rich in ripe red peppers. Being an antioxidant powerhouse suggests peppers offer a strong anti-inflammatory capacity and are likely to lower the risk of chronic disease. Sadly, to date large scale studies which specifically look at the consumption of bell peppers on the incidence of chronic disease, remains lacking.
May have blood-sugar lowering effectsAnimal studies suggest bell peppers aid blood sugar management. However, although increasing evidence supports it’s the polyphenols, found in plants like peppers, which have a beneficial influence on blood sugar and appear to help reduce the risk of diabetes, more human studies are needed. It’s hoped that any future research would provide an insight into how much would constitute an effective intake of polyphenol-rich foods.
Are bell peppers safe for everyone?
Bell peppers are a healthy inclusion for most people, although some choose to avoid them because they find peppers are difficult to digest and may trigger heartburn.
Others, experience allergic symptoms, although this is uncommon, with cross-reactivity being more likely for people who have a pollen allergy.
Bell peppers offer many health benefits. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, especially the ripest peppers, which are red. Peppers are also a good source of vitamin A and fiber.
Bell peppers also have antioxidant properties, which may help to protect against diseases such as cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Compounds in bell peppers may also help to protect against inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis.
If people have a pepper or nightshade allergy, they may need to avoid bell peppers.
Bell peppers are a nutritious and easy addition to any meal. People can slice them and eat them raw, roast, grill, or fry them.