It is no secret that vegetables need to be a regular component of your diet. With the hectic pace of life that many people lead, finding time to prepare and eat those veggies can seem like an insurmountable challenge. Luckily for you and your health, one vegetable whose benefits make it easy to fit into any schedule is the sweet pepper.
Sweet peppers are a healthy addition to your diet and provide many benefits. This article will discuss the benefits of sweet peppers, along with some easy ways to incorporate them into your regular diet.
Sweet Peppers Nutrition: How Good Are These Vegetables For You?
All vegetables are good for you, but sweet peppers have some special qualities that make them an even better choice. Red sweet peppers are the ripest. They contain more carotenoids like beta-carotene than green ones do. They also contain lycopene, which is an antioxidant that can help protect you from prostate cancer and heart disease when eaten regularly (2).
Below are some of the benefits of eating these vegetables based on the nutrients they provide:
One of the health benefits of sweet peppers is that they contain vitamin C. The body does not produce vitamin C on its own; this is why it must be acquired through dietary sources. One cup of chopped red sweet pepper has 190 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C (7). This is more than 100% of the daily recommended intake for adults.
Vitamin C plays an important role in supporting a healthy immune system because it is present in high quantities in white blood cells, which are responsible for fending off viruses and bacteria that make you sick (7).
Vitamin C is also vital for other functions in the body, including (7):
- Playing an important role in the formation of collagen.
- Helping protect your eye from free radical damage, which is a major cause of cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Helping your body absorb iron, which is an important mineral for making red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body.
Another of the health benefits of sweet peppers is that they provide a substantial amount of vitamin A. One cup of red sweet pepper has 234 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin A, which is 26% of the recommended %DV (5).
Vitamin A is essential for vision and supports healthy mucus membranes throughout your body which line your respiratory, digestive, and urinary tracts, as well as some organs, including your nose and eyes. This nutrient is also important for (5):
- Immune system function.
- Cell growth and differentiation.
- Helping build and maintain healthy bones, teeth, soft tissue, and skin.
One of the health benefits of sweet peppers is that they provide a significant amount of vitamin B6. 1 cup of chopped red sweet pepper has around 0.4 milligram (mg) of Vitamin B6, about 25%% of the daily recommended intake for adults between 19 and 50 years old (4).Vitamin B6 is also known as “Pyridoxine” because it turns into pyridoxal phosphate or P-5-P when metabolized in your body.
This nutrient works with many other nutrients, including iron, magnesium, and folate, which enable the cells in your body to produce energy from protein, fat, and carbohydrates. It also plays a role in (6):
- Helping form red blood cells, which are part of your immune system that protect you against invaders like bacteria or viruses.
- Helping maintain healthy nerve function by producing neurotransmitters that send messages between brain cells.
- Converting tryptophan into serotonin, which is the feel-good hormone responsible for feelings of happiness, satisfaction, and well-being.
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Also known as Vitamin B9, folate or Folic Acid is one of the health benefits of sweet peppers. One cup of chopped red sweet pepper has about 70 micrograms (mcg) of folate, which is nearly 20% of the recommended daily intake for adults 19 years and older (3).
Folate turns into tetrahydrofolate, 5-MTHF, and other forms in your body. This nutrient has key functions including (3):
- Acting as a coenzyme in the formation of nucleic acid and amino acids, which are needed for building DNA and RNA.
- Helping with the maintenance of low homocysteine levels, which is an amino acid associated with heart disease and stroke.
- Converting it to methionine which is used by your liver to make proteins, antioxidants, and other substances that keep your body healthy.
- Helping maintain healthy red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout your body.
One of the health benefits of sweet peppers is that they provide a significant amount of dietary fiber per serving size without providing calories or raising blood sugar levels. A 1 cup serving provides around 3 grams (g) of total fiber (4). The roles played by fiber in your body include:
- Acting as a food source for “good” bacteria that live in your intestines to produce short-chain fatty acids.
- Helping regulate bowel function by speeding up the passage of material through your colon.
- Helping you feel full longer, which can help with weight management efforts.
Some antioxidants are also known as “Phytochemicals”. It is one of the many health benefits of sweet peppers because they fight oxidative stress created by free radicals found in nature and the environment like air pollution, radiation, and cigarette smoke. The body creates some natural free radicals to support cell growth and other activities but excessive amounts produced by external factors can overwhelm our bodies’ ability to maintain a healthy balance. This is where antioxidants come in! They are responsible for (2):
- Helping neutralize free radicals by giving them an electron that stops them from attacking your cells and causing damage that leads to chronic conditions like cancer, heart disease, or stroke.
- Helping you maintain healthy blood pressure levels already within the normal range.
- Reducing the symptoms of arthritis, which includes muscle pain, stiffness, and swelling in joints.
One of the health benefits of sweet peppers is they contain carotenoids; these are nutrients that produce pigments in plants with an antioxidant activity that benefits human health when consumed (2). There are over 600 carotenoids found throughout nature but only about 50 can be made by humans. The other 550 must be consumed through your diet. Sweet bell peppers are associated in:
- Reducing the risk of developing arthritis and other inflammatory conditions because it contains carotenoids like lycopene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and lutein (2).
- Helping maintain healthy eyesight, including sharpness, color perception, and visual acuity by protecting eye cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals (2).
- Protecting against age-related macular degeneration, which is a common cause of blindness in adults over the age of 50 (2).
Are There Any Side Effects Of Eating Sweet Peppers?
Yes. If you consume sweet peppers in excess amounts or you have a sensitivity to them, you may experience several side effects such as (1):
- Bloating and gas
- Stomach cramps
That said, these vegetables are generally healthy, and allergies are quite rare.
Best Ways To Cook Sweet Peppers
There are many ways to cook peppers, and it all comes down to tastes and preferences.
Here are some of the best ways to prepare these vegetables to get the most nutrients.
Grilled peppers are great for managing your weight because they don’t absorb as much oil or fat during the grilling process. They also have a delicious charred taste.
To grill these vegetables:
- Start by cleaning and deseeding them.
- Brush with olive oil and a little salt and place on the grill for a few minutes.
- Grilled peppers go well with barbequed meats like steak or vegetable medleys.
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Roasting bell peppers gives them a rich, smoky flavor. To roast peppers, you can do it quick or slow.
To do it quickly:
- Place them under the broiler on high for 5 minutes per side.
To do it slowly:
- Place the peppers on a baking sheet and put them in an oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 Celsius).
- Roast for 20-30 minutes and turn it every 10 minutes.
Boiled bell peppers lose some of their taste, but they are still great to eat.
- Clean and deseed the pepper by removing the stalks, membrane, and seeds.
- Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil.
- Add chopped peppers (with or without skins) and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Drain the water before serving with salt, pepper, herbs, or spices, or making it into soup.
Sweet peppers go great with stir-frying.
To do this:
- Cut the pepper into strips and pre-soak them in hot water for 30 seconds to make it easier to remove the outer skin.
- Heat oil in a wok or a large frying pan and fry the bell peppers until they are slightly tender but still crisp.
- These can be served alone as a side dish or mixed with other vegetables before being served over rice, pasta, pancakes, or baked potatoes.
Another option is to stuff the capsicum with a filling of your choice. This method can be done by either baking or microwaving.
For the oven:
- Clean the peppers and deseed them before stuffing them with a mixture of eggs, tomatoes, and spices, which makes a perfect breakfast recipe.
- Place the stuffed peppers on a tray in the oven and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 Celsius).
To do this in the microwave:
- Preheat it at 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 Celsius), then cut an open slit into each pepper lengthwise without removing seeds or membrane.
- Fill each pepper halfway with two tablespoons of grated cheese, minced meat, and half a teaspoon of tomato paste before placing them back together again.
- Place in a microwave-safe dish and cover it with plastic wrap before microwaving for 4 minutes.
Dipping In Pureed Pepper
Pureed bell pepper dip is a great way to get your daily dose of sweet peppers.
To make it:
- Start by boiling the peppers until their skins are soft enough to remove.
- Once this is done, cut them open and deseed them using a spoon.
- Place in a blender along with garlic and oil and puree until smooth.
- Serve with bread or crackers as an appetizer or snack during the day.
How Do You Preserve Sweet Peppers?
When you shop for peppers, pick those that are firm and unblemished. Store them in the fridge where they can last up to a week.
To preserve sweet peppers for longer, you can freeze them.
- Deseed and cut the pepper into evenly sized pieces.
- Store in a freezer bag and use as needed.
You can also dry or pickle bell peppers to preserve them for longer periods.
Sweet peppers are an excellent addition to your diet because they are rich in vitamins and other nutrients that promote good health. They come in a variety of colors and flavors and can be eaten raw or cooked depending on what you prefer.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Bell Pepper Allergy: Different Sensitization Profiles (2018, jiaci.org)
- Bioactive Compounds and Antioxidant Activity in Different Varieties of Bell Pepper (2015, mdpi.com)
- Folate (Folic Acid)- Vitamin B9 (n.d., harvard.edu)
- Peppers, sweet, red, raw (2019, usda.gov)
- Vitamin A (2021, nih.gov)
- Vitamin B6 (2021, nih.gov)
- Vitamin C (2021, nih.gov)