Bell peppers, also known as sweet peppers or capsicums, are fruits that belong to the nightshade family. They come in various colors, such as red, yellow, orange, and green, and have a crunchy texture and a sweet flavor. Bell peppers can be eaten raw or cooked, and they are a versatile ingredient that can enhance the taste and appearance of many dishes. But bell peppers are not only delicious, they are also nutritious and offer many health benefits. Here are some of the reasons why you should include bell peppers in your diet.
Rich in vitamin C
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that plays a key role in immune system function, wound healing, collagen synthesis, and antioxidant defense. Bell peppers are one of the richest sources of vitamin C among fruits and vegetables, with one medium-sized red bell pepper providing 169% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin C. Vitamin C also helps increase the absorption of iron from plant sources, which may prevent or treat iron deficiency anemia.
Carotenoids are plant pigments that give bell peppers their vibrant colors. They also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may protect against various chronic diseases. Some of the carotenoids found in bell peppers are beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and capsanthin. Beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin A in the body, which is important for vision, skin health, and immune function. Lutein and zeaxanthin are concentrated in the retina of the eye and may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Capsanthin is a red pigment that has been shown to have anti-cancer effects in animal and test-tube studies.
Support digestive health
Bell peppers are a good source of fiber, with one medium-sized bell pepper providing 2.1 grams of fiber. Fiber is essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system, as it helps prevent constipation, lower cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar levels, and feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Fiber may also reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, diverticular disease, and hemorrhoids.
Help with weight loss
Bell peppers are low in calories and high in water content, which makes them a filling and satisfying food. One medium-sized bell pepper has only 31 calories and 92% water. Eating foods with a high water content may help you consume fewer calories and lose weight. Bell peppers also contain capsaicin, a compound that gives chili peppers their spiciness. Capsaicin has been found to increase metabolism, reduce appetite, and burn fat in some studies. However, the amount of capsaicin in bell peppers is much lower than in chili peppers, so its effects may not be significant.
Inflammation is a normal response of the immune system to injury or infection, but chronic inflammation can lead to various diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and cancer. Bell peppers contain several compounds that may have anti-inflammatory effects, such as vitamin C, carotenoids, flavonoids, and phenolic acids. These compounds may modulate the production of inflammatory cytokines and enzymes in the body and inhibit oxidative stress.
Bell peppers are a delicious and nutritious food that can add color and flavor to your meals. They are rich in vitamin C, carotenoids, fiber, and other beneficial compounds that may support your immune system, eye health, digestive health, weight loss, and inflammation control. You can enjoy bell peppers raw or cooked in salads, stir-fries, soups, stews, casseroles, or stuffed with your favorite ingredients.