Sweet bell peppers, with their terrifically tangy, sweet taste, add a lovely light crunchiness to meals. Their vivid bright colors of royal red, sunny yellow, bright orange or deep green adds vibrant beauty to any meal, whether it’s a salad or a stir fry.
5 Amazing Health Benefits of Sweet Bell Peppers
1. Lowers Risk of Prostate Cancer
Research studies of 12 years, found the relationship between vitamin C rich foods, particularly green peppers, lowered the risk of prostate cancer. Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Disease scientists attributed lycopene, β-carotene, vitamins E, C and A, and retinoids found in bell peppers may significantly reduce prostate cancer risk.
2. Helps Repair Bones
Collagen is a long, fibrous protein critical to providing your bones with tensile strength. Collagen needs vitamin C to synthesize collagen. U.S. National Library of Medicine note that red and yellow bell peppers have 4 times as much vitamin C as oranges.
3. May Help Protect Against Cancer
Red bell peppers are abundant in capsanthin, an antioxidant responsible for their brilliant red color. Some studies have shown that this carotenoid may help protect against cancer.
4. Great Food for Weight Loss
Sweet red peppers can activate thermogenesis and increases our metabolism without increasing our heart rate and blood pressure like the hot peppers do, research has shown.
Also, they are low in calories being 92 percent water (1 green peppers, sliced cup = 18 calories 1 red peppers, sliced cup = 28 calories). Source: USDA
5. Can Help Prevent Anemia
They are high in Vitamin C which is needed to fully absorb iron.
Bell Pepper Trivia
- They are technically a fruit because they grow on a flowering plant and contain seeds
- Sweet bell peppers are not hot! As measured in ‘Scoville Heat Scale’ a sweet bell pepper scores 0, while a jalapeno pepper scores between 2,500 and 4,000 and those Mexican habaneros 200,000 to 500,000 units!
- According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture: Between 2007-2011, China produced 51 percent of the world’s bell peppers making them the largest bell pepper growers, followed by Mexico, Turkey and Indonesia.
Bell Pepper Nutrition
- High in Vitamin C – Green, sweet bell peppers have 2 times as much vitamin C as oranges; red and yellow bell peppers have 4 times as much. One cup of chopped green bell peppers provides 119.8 milligrams. Red peppers contain almost 300 percent of your daily vitamin C intake.
- Contain Many Healthy Antioxidants (capsanthin, violaxanthin, lutein, quercetin and luteolin) which are associated with many health benefits. Source: Authority Nutrition
Allergy or Sensitivity to Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are part of the nightshade family, which also includes potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant. For those who are sensitive to nightshades, they could trigger inflammation in the body and contribute to arthritis. There are no scientific studies to confirm this, but many health professionals have made the observation that some are sensitive to nightshade produce. It has been suggested that this sensitivity to nightshades is a unique sensitivity to solanine.
There are people with pollen allergy may also be sensitive to bell peppers. When bell peppers are eaten in moderation they don’t usually have any adverse health effects.
Green peppers are native to Mexico, Central America and South America.
Christopher Columbus brought sweet peppers back to Europe where they quickly became a popular ingredient in Spanish cuisine.
Sweet bell peppers can be orange, yellow, red, purple, brown, black, ivory or green, depending on the stage of ripeness and the variety. Green bell peppers are fully developed, but not ripe.
All sweet bell peppers start out green and change color as they ripen. They also get sweeter.
What can be confusing is that there is also a variety that is green when ripe. The color depends on the specific variety; the most common variety is red when ripe. So there are varieties of green sweet bell peppers that start out green and are green when ripe.
Red, yellow and orange sweet bell peppers start out green and turn red when fully ripe.
What you find in the store are usually either unripe green sweet bell peppers or unripe red ones.
The skin should be firm without any wrinkles, and the stem should be fresh and green. They should feel heavy for their size. Avoid peppers with sunken areas, slashes or black spots.
How to Ripen Harvested Green Bell Peppers
Storing green peppers in a box or perforated, plastic bag in a dark room with a temperature around room temperature can ripen them into a red color in about two weeks. Storing them at 13 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit) slows down the ripening process to three or four weeks. Keep an eye on them as they ripen. If they dry out or shrivel, the humidity in the room might be too low. If they begin to mold or rot, the humidity may be too high.
Bell peppers are best unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They will stay fresh for about one to 2 weeks. Green ones will stay fresh longer than the yellow and red ones.