Health Benefits of Bell Peppers

Healthy Recipes and Nutrition,Nutrition
November 14, 2011

Whether green, red, yellow or orange, bell peppers are beneficial to your overall health. Here's why.

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In the United States, bell peppers add sweet flavor to hundreds of popular dishes, from crisp salads to savory pizza and vegetable-laden stir-fry. Green bell peppers are the most common and, according to How Stuff Works, are “simply red or yellow peppers that haven’t ripened.” Shoppers can find red, orange or yellow bell peppers alongside green bell peppers in their local grocery produce sections.

Green versus red: health benefits. Both green and red bell peppers offer important nutrients, including dietary fiber, calcium, potassium, vitamin C and choline, but they differ in amount. One cup of chopped raw green bell pepper has 119 milligrams of vitamin C, for instance, compared to the same serving of red bell pepper, which has a whopping 190 milligrams of vitamin C. The red bell pepper also has more beta carotene, with 2,420 micrograms versus the 310 micrograms in a green bell pepper. The red also has more vitamin A, with 4,665 IU (international units), whereas the green has just 551 IU of vitamin A. Diets rich in vitamin A can help you maintain a healthy immune system and may aid in healthy vision. Vitamin A is also important for bone growth and cellular development.

Pick a pepper. Dole.com reports that most U.S. green bell peppers are grown in Florida, though the bell pepper is also grown in California, New Jersey, North Carolina and Texas. When selecting bell peppers for purchase, look for peppers with skins that are smooth and free of scars and wrinkles. The stem should not be withered. Avoid peppers that have soft spots or brownish discolorations.

Storing bell peppers. Unwashed bell peppers will stay fresh for about a week if refrigerated. Keep the peppers in a plastic bag or container to maintain maximum freshness. A bounty of bell peppers is a good thing! Bell peppers freeze with ease. Simply wash the bell peppers, cut into strips for stir-fry or chop for other recipes. Dry with a paper towel and place the washed and cut bell peppers into freezer safe bags or containers. The frozen peppers are ideal to add to soups, stews, casseroles and skillet dishes.

Fun facts. Pepper plants can grow as tall as three feet! As the green bell pepper ripens further turning from green to red, its flavor mellows and becomes even sweeter. Roasted red bell peppers are a flavorful ingredient featured in many salads and sandwiches.