Bell Peppers

Bell Peppers

The bell pepper. Yum! In addition to tasting great, did you know they also help you fight everything from the common cold to cancer? This fabulously delicious food is known for its mild yet rich flavor, and the ability to stuff bell peppers up with all sorts of tasty delectables is awesome!

But pepper benefits go far beyond taste! Bell peppers have a slew of incredibly essential vitamins, antioxidants and minerals that will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle, and can even help you to balance your weight.

Bell Pepper Nutrition Facts

The bell pepper is a part of the Capsicum annum species of plants, part of the family of foods known as nightshade vegetables. Botanically, it’s a fruit (like tomatoes), but nutritionally considered a vegetable. While the other types of peppers within this species are much spicier, bell peppers don’t contain Capsaicin, so they are sweet and mild.

Color Varieties

There are various color varieties of bell peppers, with the most common being red, yellow and green. However, you may find them more infrequently in orange, brown, white and lavender. There are also nutritional differences between colors of bell peppers. A red bell pepper, for example, contains over eight times the amount of vitamin A than a green bell pepper.

Bell peppers have a high concentration of antioxidants. Just one of these handy veggies will provide more than twice the daily recommended amount of vitamin C, and three-fourths of your daily needed vitamin A intake. When you eat these vitamins in real food form, they go to work on your body so much better than machine-made supplements do!

One medium-sized red bell pepper (about 119 grams) contains: (1)

37 calories
5 milligrams sodium
7 grams carbohydrate
5 grams sugar
1 gram protein
152 milligrams vitamin C (253 percent DV)
3726 international units (I.U.s) Vitamin A (75 percent DV)
0.3 milligrams vitamin B6 (17 percent DV)
54.7 micrograms folate (14 percent DV)
2 grams fiber (8 percent DV)
5.8 micrograms Vitamin K (7 percent DV)
1.2 milligrams niacin (6 percent DV)
0.1 milligrams thiamine (4 percent DV)

Bell Peppers Help Improve Immunity

Bell pepper nutrition contains more than one sickness-fighting power punch! The high presence of vitamin A is essential to fighting all sorts of ailments, conditions and diseases. Studies show vitamin A supplementation can actually increase mortality by nearly 25%, especially in children who are deficient in good nutrition. Bell peppers are a great way to build immunity at a very low cost.

Natural Stress Reliever & Inflammation Reducer

Due to their high vitamin C content, bell peppers are a great natural stress reliever.
In general, bell peppers can help reduce inflammation in your body, which is actually at the root of many diseases.

Peppers and Weight Loss

Because bell peppers can easily be eaten raw or cooked, they are a great go-to food for vibrant health and in particular losing weight. At only 37 calories per serving, bell peppers can provide your body with a huge number of nutrients while minimally impacting the amount of calories you consume in a day. Peppers are fantastic for substituting out junk food! So ditch the french fries and the potato chips for colorful pepper slices and you’ll feel fantastic!

Peppers Help Reduce Risk of Cancer & Heart Disease

Bell peppers have a large number of carotenoids, plant-based antioxidants that help reduce oxidation cell damage. Red peppers, in particular, contains very high quantities of beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Eating foods high in carotenoids, especially beta-carotene, has been shown to help reduce the risk of cancer and significantly reduce the free radical activity in your body.

Studies show steam cooking bell peppers and various other antioxidant-rich foods improve an activity called “bile acid binding capacity.” Why is that important? Increased bile acid binding capacity means that bile acids are recirculated less as your body processes food, utilizing cholesterol more efficiently and reducing the body’s absorption of fat, reducing your risk of heart disease. Poor bile acid binding capacity is also associated with increased cancer risk. So steaming up those bell peppers helps bring out their best nutrition, but as with most veggies, don’t overcook because too much heat is also no good.

Bell Peppers are a Great Aid for Eye Health

Bell peppers contain high levels of vitamin A as well as the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. These are crucial for healthy eyes. Green bell peppers have over half a milligram of lutein and zeaxanthin, which makes it one of the best natural sources of these antioxidants. Lutein is known as a natural treatment for macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults. By filtering out short-wavelength UV light that can easily damage the retina, this antioxidant helps protect the degeneration of eye cells that lead to this disease. In fact, just 6 milligrams of supplemented lutein per day can reduce your chance of developing this disease by 43 percent.

For older people who already have cataracts, lutein can improve vision. Other eye-related benefits include reducing eye fatigue, decreasing light and glare sensitivity and improved acute vision.

Bell Peppers are Great For Your Mental Health

Peppers are a fantastic brain food due to its high level of vitamin B6. This increases the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, sometimes referred to as the “happy hormones.” High levels of these hormones are associated with improved or elevated mood, higher energy levels and more concentration, while low levels have been commonly linked with several mental disorders such as ADD/ADHD.

Bell Peppers are Fabulous for Beautiful Skin

Did You Know? Not only is a large amount of vitamin C good for your immune system, but it’s also great for your skin! This, along with the carotenoids found in bell peppers, improves the health of your skin and promotes collagen production. People with high levels of Vitamin C have skin that is less dry and wrinkled, and they also are at a lower risk of developing skin cancer. Our skin is actually considered to be an organ, so you should take good care of it. Eat well, rest, exercise, and don’t spend hours laying in the sun, especially without protection!

Bell Peppers are a Tremendous Pregnancy Aid

Bell peppers contain 14 percent of the daily recommended amount of folate, a vital nutrient for pregnant mothers. In fact, the daily recommendation for folate goes up approximately an additional 50 percent in pregnant women because of its role in preventing birth defects and keeping unborn children healthy. Not only does folate help reduce birth defects, it also promotes healthy neural tube development, helps in a child growing to an appropriate birth rate before delivery, and causes the face and heart to develop properly.

History & Interesting Facts About Bell Peppers

Peppers have been a popular food for many families for thousands of years. The earliest record of the pepper is from 6,100 years ago in southwestern Ecuador, where families would grow them in their own farms.

The earliest mention of the bell pepper specifically occurred in 1699, when Lionel Wafer mentioned it as growing in the Ithsmus of America in his book, A New Voyage and Description of the Isthmus of America. Again in 1774, Edward Long mentioned them when writing about various varieties of pepper currently being cultivated in Jamaica.

Interestingly, the term “pepper” was assigned to this food by Christopher Columbus when importing them back to Europe from the Americas. Although they have little in common with the peppercorn which first bore the name, the spicy flavor of different types of what we now know as peppers inspired him to consider them a member of the same family. The bell variety was named such because of its bell-like shape.

The bell pepper is also unique because it lacks the capsaicin found in other cultivars in the species Capsicum annum. Due to a recessive form of a gene, this is the only variety of pepper that provides only sweet flavor without the burning sensation of its brothers.

How to Select and Prepare Bell Peppers

Important Note: All bell peppers are not grown equally, so be cautious in your shopping!  Bell peppers are on the top of the Dirty Dozen list of chemical pesticide foods, so please be sure to buy them organic! Buying your bell peppers organic is not only important because of the presence of pesticides, but because organic bell peppers retain their nutrition far better than non-organic.  As with most fruits and vegetables, try to choose bell peppers without any obvious damage. The brighter the flavor, the fresher your peppers will be.

The preparation methods are endless with these handy vegetables. You can eat them raw, roast them, grill them or anything in between. You can stuff them with rice, quinoa or other great foods.

There are countless bell pepper recipes you can find nearly anywhere you look.  Or be creative and make your own special dish.  Enjoy!

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