Bell Pepper Benefits: How Healthy Are They?
There are more bell pepper benefits than you may know…
- They provide anti-inflammatory compounds
- Bell peppers contain anti-cancer agents
- They improve heart health
- They help to prevent type 2 diabetes
Does color impact the nutritional value of bell peppers?
It can, when you consider an unripened (green) vs. a fully ripe (red) pepper. Green bell peppers typically offer the lowest nutritional value because they’ve spent less time on the vine. It’s also part of why green bell peppers cost less than other color options. Because they are harvested and shipped off at an immature stage, less work is involved in caring for them. That said, green bell peppers are still very nutritious and contain large amounts of vitamin C.
Red bell peppers (or other fully ripened colors) have spent the most time on the vine. Their nutritional value is considerably more than that of the green bell pepper; they can have twice as much vitamin C as green bell peppers and more than 10 times the vitamin A. The premium price is mainly the result of the time spent on the pepper plant and the extra care that they require before harvest.
Bell peppers often get less attention among peppers because they do not contain capsaicin, the substance that makes hot peppers hot and that provides a range of cancer-fighting benefits. Despite their inability to make your eyes water, bell peppers do provide their own set of compounds for enhancing health. Their nutrients include minerals, vitamins and a range of antioxidants. These health-boosting compounds are essential for the treatment and prevention of certain serious diseases.
Here are some of the many bell pepper benefits and how they can improve your health:
They provide anti-inflammatory compounds
While bell peppers may not be the first thing that people think about when seeking food rich in vitamin C, a single medium-sized bell pepper can provide 100 percent more vitamin C when compared to oranges. Bell peppers also contain more vitamin C than equivalent servings of tomatoes and potatoes. Note that red bell peppers are particularly rich in this vitamin. Vitamin C should be a big part of your diet if you want to fight inflammation. The bell pepper’s anti-inflammatory benefits make it effective for fighting several major diseases. Along with vitamin C, bell peppers contain phytochemicals and carotenoids that also help with the fight against inflammation.
Bell peppers contain anti-cancer agents
There is a considerable amount of research that shows the value of bell peppers for fighting certain cancers. Bell peppers are believed to be especially effective against prostate, breast and lung cancers. Red bell peppers contain an antioxidant pigment called lycopene along with vitamin E. Researchers have been able to reduce the size of prostate cancer tumors using this pair of nutrients. A 100 g serving of bell peppers contains more lycopene than an equivalent amount of asparagus.
They improve heart health
Bell peppers contain high levels of quercetin and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that can help to fight the oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL). People with high levels of oxidized LDL are more likely to develop heart disease.The LDL type of cholesterol is prone to adhering to the walls of arteries when it is oxidized. That tendency results in the condition known as atherosclerosis, which can result in heart disease. Consuming foods like bell peppers that are rich in antioxidants can therefore help to preserve cardiovascular health.
Bell peppers also contain folate, which is another compound that appears to be important for heart health. Researchers have found that high folate intake results in a much lower risk of heart disease. One study found that individuals who consumed the most folate were more than 50 percent less likely to have a heart attack. Bell peppers contain more folate than tomatoes or carrots.
They help to prevent type 2 diabetes
Bell peppers contain a lot of fiber, which can slow the rate at which your body converts carbohydrates into glucose. This helps with blood sugar control. The recommended amount for daily fiber consumption is between 20 and 35 g. A single bell pepper can provide a lot of that. Because fiber does not contain any calories, high-fiber diets are associated with weight loss. This is important because obesity is a major factor in diabetes. Losing weight can reduce your risk of developing it.