What are bell peppers good for?

Bell pepper report
Botanical name: Capsicum annuum L.

Bell Pepper Nutrition Facts

Bell peppers are some of the most versatile vegetables available, no matter where you go in the world. They make a delicious sauté with onions,1 and may be added to salads,2 soups3 and casseroles.4 They can be stuffed,5 lightly grilled,6 added to a simple and delicious dip7 or simply sliced for a fresh, flavorful and crunchy snack.

Compared to other peppers, bell peppers aren’t known for a high level of spiciness. Red bell peppers tend to be sweeter, as are some yellow and orange varieties.8

The heat intensity of peppers is measured in Scoville heat units (SHU). Green, yellow or red bell peppers score a zero on the scale, jalapeño peppers have around 3,500 to 8,000 and habañeros are at 150,000 to 300,000 units. There are also other peppers you can include in your dishes for both flavor and color, such as banana, shishito, cayenne, and serrano.9

Health benefits of bell peppers

Bell peppers have a fair share of health-boosting vitamins and minerals. Regular consumption of vitamin C-rich foods, like bell peppers (which may contain more than twice the vitamin C of an orange10) may help protect your body against scurvy,11 boost the immune system,12 decrease inflammation,13 reduce risk for heart disease14 and scavenge harmful free radicals in the body.15

Other nutritional benefits of bell peppers come from nutrients like thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (vitamin B3), folate, magnesium and potassium.16

A 2005 study published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis showed that vitamin K, which is abundant in bell peppers, may help synthesize some proteins that may positively affect blood coagulation.17 Vitamin K may also play a role in protecting your bones against osteoporosis.18,19 People with reduced bone density have lower levels of this nutrient.20  Interestingly enough, sautéed peppers contain higher amounts of vitamin K than raw peppers.21

While bell peppers’ health benefits are numerous, it’s important to note that they’re part of the nightshade plant family22 along with eggplants and potatoes,23 and contain high amounts of lectins. These are plant proteins that can attach to cell membranes.24

Lectins are antinutrients that can resist digestion, cause negative shifts in the balance of your gut bacteria, trigger inflammation, increase your risk for abnormal clotting and potentially predispose you to leptin resistance. However, you can reduce the lectin content in bell peppers by removing their seeds prior to cooking, since these antinutrients tend to be concentrated in the seeds or skin of fruits and vegetables.25

To learn more about the other potential nutrients found in sweet red bell peppers (one of the most used varieties of this vegetable), you can check out the table below:26

Bell pepper nutrition facts

Serving Size: 100 grams, raw
  Amt. Per
Serving
% Daily
Value*
Calories 26  
Calories from Fat 0  
Total Fat 0.30 g  
Saturated Fat 0.059 g  
Trans Fat 0 g  
Cholesterol 0 mg  
Sodium 4 mg  
Total Carbohydrates 6.03 g  
Dietary Fiber 2.1 g  
Sugar 4.20 g  
Protein 0.99 g  
Vitamin A 157 µg Vitamin C 127.7 mg
Calcium 7 mg Iron 0.43

Studies done on bell peppers

Authors of a 2003 Food, Agriculture & Environment article conducted a thorough examination on green, red and yellow bell peppers to discover the nutrients found in these vegetables. All peppers examined contained phenolic compounds, ascorbic acid and carotenoids, while delivering free radical-scavenging activity.27

Green peppers showed the highest phenolic activity, but had less carotenoids than red and yellow varieties, and less ascorbic acid compared to red peppers. Speaking of red peppers, this was found to have the most ascorbic acid content, as well as a higher level of free radical-scavenging activity.28

Meanwhile, a 2008 study in Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases highlighted the possible link between vitamin C-rich food intake, particularly green peppers, and a lowered risk of prostate cancer.29

Researchers conducted initial studies plus 12.7 years of follow up on men exposed to high amounts of asbestos in Australia. Men who consumed more bell peppers and broccoli in their diet had a lower risk for prostate cancer. The authors highlighted that the nutrients lycopene, beta-carotene, vitamins E, C and A and retinoids in bell peppers may have played a role in promoting this effect.30

Bell pepper healthy recipes:
Crudités with tangy garlic-scallion dip recipe

Bell Pepper Healthy Recipes

Ingredients:

1 red bell pepper or 8 ounces sliced mushrooms

1 yellow bell pepper or ½ head cauliflower, cut in florets

8 celery stalks

2 tablespoons diced scallions

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger

2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce

3 tablespoons almond butter

2 tablespoons brown rice syrup

15 oz cooked chickpeas, drained

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

½ teaspoon Tabasco

2 tablespoons gomasio (ground sesame seeds and sea salt)

½ teaspoon sea salt

   

Procedures:

  1. Cut peppers and celery into strips.
  2. In a food processor, combine scallions, garlic, ginger, tamari, almond butter, rice syrup, chickpeas, vinegar, and hot sauce.
  3. Blend for about 4 minutes.
  4. With the food processor running, add the gomasio and salt and blend for another 30 seconds.
  5. Place dip in a bowl and place on a chilled platter. Spread the cutup vegetables around dip bowl and serve.

This recipe makes 10 servings.
(From Healthy Recipes for Your Nutritional Type by Dr. Joseph Mercola)

Bell pepper fun facts

Peppers belong to the Solanaceae or nightshade family,31 a wide-ranging species with more than 2,000 types of plants,32 some of them edible,33 ornamental,34 medicinal35 and poisonous.36 In particular, bell peppers are related to tomato, potato, eggplant,37 tobacco and petunia.38

Summary

The bell pepper is an extremely versatile vegetable that can be used in hundreds of meals. Even if they’re milder in flavor, brightly colored bell peppers can add a dimension to dishes that would otherwise be bland and colorless. They're good for you, too, as they offer vitamins A, C and K, thiamin, niacin, folate, potassium and magnesium.39 While bell peppers vary somewhat in the health benefits they provide, there's no question that they’re well worth trying. You can experiment with different varieties to savor their flavors, and feel good while doing it.


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