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Bell Peppers - Varieties, Nutrition And Health Benefits

Updated on November 19, 2020
rajan jolly profile image

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

Bell Peppers

bell peppers of different colors
bell peppers of different colors | Source

Latin Name: Capsicum annuum

In India, bell peppers are called "Shimla Mirch".

About Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are native to Mexico, Central Northern South America though today you can find them growing in most parts of the world. China today is the leading producer of bell peppers followed by Mexico.

Available in a variety of vivid colours ranging from the common green colour it is available in white, yellow, orange, red, purple, brown and even black colours. They are all from the same plant Capsicum annuum and belong to the nightshade family of which potato, tomato and eggplant are members.

Also known as sweet peppers, capsicum or simply peppers, bell peppers are plump and bell-shaped with a thick, crunchy flesh. Compared to other cultivars of this species, bell peppers are almost sweet with pungency ranging from zero to minimally hot.

Green and purple peppers are slightly bitter while the red, yellow and orange ones are sweet in taste.

Bell peppers are not hot as capsaicin which accounts for the pepper's hotness is present in extremely small amounts in bell peppers depending on their colour.

All types of unripe bell peppers start off green in colour but depending on the cultivar its genetic colour is exhibited when it is allowed to mature fully.

The coloured bell peppers are more expensive than the green ones as they need a longer time to harvest.

Cooking bell peppers on low heat for a short time preserves the delicate phytonutrients it contains as studies have found that high heat destroys a high percentage of them.

Paprika is prepared from dried red bell peppers as well as from chilli peppers.

Bharwan Shimla Mirch | Potato Stuffed Baked Bell Peppers

White Bell Pepper

White bell pepper in Budapest
White bell pepper in Budapest | Source

Bell Pepper Nutrition

Depending on their colour, different coloured bell peppers have different nutrients predominant in them. For example:

Green peppers have an excess of chlorophyll, yellow ones have a higher amount of lutein and zeaxanthin, the orange ones more of alpha, beta and gamma carotene. Red bell peppers have more of lycopene and astaxanthin.

Bell peppers are an excellent source of over 30 carotenoids and along with tomato are the only 2 vegetables that contain at least 2/3 of the 8 nutrients like vitamin E & C, and the carotenoids, alpha-carotene, beta carotene, lycopene, lutein, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin.

Red bell peppers have the maximum amount of vitamin C, carotenoids and total antioxidant capacity among all coloured bell peppers.

Bell peppers are also rich in sulfur-containing compounds which provide anti-cancer benefits.

They are low in calories and fat unlike chilli peppers and provide just 31 calories per 100 grams.

The red bell peppers provide more than double the amount of vitamin C than the green ones while their vitamin A content is almost 9 times higher and the beta carotene content almost 2 and one-half times more.

Bell peppers contain low levels of several B complex vitamins and many minerals.

Red Bell Pepper Nutrition

 
Bell peppers (Capsicum annuum var annuum), red,
 
 
raw, Nutrition value per 100 gms
 
 
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
 
Principle
Nutrient Value
Percentage of RDA
Energy
31 Kcal
1.50%
Carbohydrates
6.03 g
4%
Protein
0.99 g
2%
Total Fat
0.30 g
1%
Cholesterol
0 mg
0%
Dietary Fiber
2.1 g
5.50%
Vitamins
 
 
Folates
46 mcg
12%
Niacin
0.979 mg
6%
Pyridoxine
0.291 mg
22%
Riboflavin
0.085 mg
6.50%
Thiamin
0.054 mg
4.50%
Vitamin A
3131 IU
101%
Vitamin C
127.7 mg
213%
Vitamin E
1.58 mg
11%
Vitamin K
4.9 mcg
4%
Electrolytes
 
 
Sodium
4 mg
<1%
Potassium
211 mg
4.50%
Minerals
 
 
Calcium
7 mg
1%
Copper
0.017 mg
2%
Iron
0.43 mg
5%
Magnesium
12 mg
3%
Manganese
0.112 mg
5%
Phosphorus
26 mg
4%
Selenium
0.1 mcg
<1%
Zinc
0.25 mg
2%
Phyto-nutrients
 
 
Carotene-?
1624 mcg
--
Carotene-?
20 mcg
--
Cryptoxanthin-?
490 mcg
--
Lutein-zeaxanthin
51 mcg
--

Maturing Bell Peppers

Maturing bell peppers
Maturing bell peppers | Source

Aloo Shimla Mirch Sabzi | Potatoes & Capsicum Curry

Health Benefits Of Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are rich in a variety of phytochemicals which give them excellent antioxidant properties. They thus help to neutralize free radicals and help in reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.

They are an extremely rich source of vitamin A which makes them good for providing and maintaining eye health, protecting against cataracts, boosting immunity and lowering cancer risk. The lutein and zeaxanthin content also prevents the development of macular degeneration and cataracts.

The beta carotene in it protects against breast cancer in young women while lycopene lowers the risk of ovarian cancer.

The anti-inflammatory properties of bell pepper provided by beta carotene, zeaxanthin and vitamin C not only reduces inflammation of arthritis and rheumatism but also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The synergistic effect of lycopene and vitamin E both of which hare found in bell peppers reduces tumours of prostate cancer.

Apigenin and vitamin B6 reduce the risk of breast and lung cancer predominantly.

Bell peppers prevent the oxidation of cholesterol and thus prevent the deposition of plaque in arteries also due to its high levels of quercetin and luteolin.

The good folate content lowers the risk of heart attack as it improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure.

Bell pepper also protects against the development of type 2 diabetes due its vitamin C, dietary fibre and cryptoxanthin content. Even the caffeic acid found in them reduce diabetes risk.

As you can see many nutrients in bell pepper are multi-purpose in action preventing a number of diseases and health conditions.

Consume organically grown bell peppers as these have higher levels of carotenoids, phenolic compounds and vitamin C as has been found in a study.

References

  • https://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2012/jul2012_Bell-Peppers_01.htm
  • http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=50&tname=foodspice
  • http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/bell-pepper.html
  • http://www.integrativehealthreview.com/eating-nutrition/the-many-health-benefits-of-bell-peppers/
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_pepper
  • http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodtip&dbid=68
  • http://foodforbreastcancer.com/foods/bell-peppers
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22368104
  • http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=dailytip&dbid=239

Disclaimer

The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.

Hummus (red bell pepper hummus recipe)

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2014 Rajan Singh Jolly

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