Health Benefits of Bell Pepper: The Sweet Pepper
Bell pepper is sweeter in taste compared to other varieties of pepper which are spicy, this is the reason behind its booming popularity worldwide. It contains the goodness of various nutrients that help combat several health problems including skin disorders, poor eyesight and even cancer. Low in calories, bell pepper can also be a perfect addition to your weight-loss diet. Read on to know more about the health benefits of bell peppers!
Bell peppers are commonly known as “sweet peppers” or simply “Capsicum” in India. They are scientifically known as Capsicum annuum and they belong to the pepper family. Bell pepper has earned its name due to its plump and bell-shaped appearance. It appears glossy and comes in vivid colours including red, yellow, green, orange, purple and brown. Bell pepper belongs to a family of foods known as the nightshade vegetables. Botanically, bell pepper is a fruit, but nutritionally it is a vegetable.Bell peppers are native to America and farmers cultivate it widely in Central and South America. After the Spanish and the Portuguese came to America in the 16th century, they spread the idea of bell pepper cultivation in Europe. Later on, the Europeans introduced bell peppers in India during the colonial period.
The first successful, large-scale cultivation of bell peppers was in Shimla, which is why they are colloquially called “Shimla Mirch” in India. India’s primary bell pepper growing regions are Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Some areas that cultivate them all through the year in greenhouses are Pune, Bangalore and Karnataka. Bell peppers are also grown on a limited scale in the states of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Gujarat and Goa.
Did You Know?
– Bell peppers grow in regions where the average temperature ranges between 21 to 25 degree Celsius
– The sweeter a bell pepper tastes, the higher is its price
– The name “pepper” comes from Europeans when Christopher Columbus was importing it to Europe from America
– Paprika are the dried and powdered form of bell peppers
In India, bell peppers are mostly present in green, yellow and red colours. Green bell peppers are the most commonly harvested as they are easily grown and are the cheapest. It has a grassy, mildly sour flavour. Yellow and red bell peppers are the ripened forms of green bell peppers. When the green bell peppers are slightly ripe, the colour changes to yellow. It turns fully red after it is completely ripe. Thus, red peppers are sweeter and fruitier in flavour.
Bell peppers are the richest source of vitamin C. It also contains beta-carotene which the body converts to produce vitamin A. Other vitamins present in bell pepper are vitamin B3, vitamin B6 and vitamin E as well as the mineral iron. Additionally, it contains carbohydrates, mostly in the form of glucose and fructose, which are responsible for the sweet taste in red bell peppers.
Health Benefits of Bell Peppers
Bell peppers contain antioxidants like lutein, zeaxanthin and quercetin.
Red bell peppers contain capsanthin and lycopene, which gives them the red colour and has cancer preventive properties. It also contains folate which is highly beneficial for pregnant women.
Let us now delve deeper into some of the major health benefits of bell peppers.
Bell peppers contain carotenoids such as beta-carotene, which has the potential to reduce the risk of cancer by significantly reducing free radical activity in the body. Carotenoids prevent free-radical induced cellular damage by capturing and neutralizing them. Red bell peppers contain lycopene which also helps prevent certain types of cancer, especially prostate cancer in men.
Promotes weight loss
Bell peppers contain capsaicin, an active ingredient that boosts metabolism and promotes weight loss. Studies have shown that capsaicin prevents the growth of fat cells in the body which aids weight loss. However, some varieties of bell pepper have a low capsaicin content which does not affect fat burning. Moreover, bell peppers have a low-calorie content so you can consume them without any worry even if you are trying to lose weight.
Anaemia is a common condition which occurs due to the body’s reduced ability of the blood to carry oxygen. It occurs due to a deficit of red blood cells (RBCs) or haemoglobin in the body. Haemoglobin is the substance in RBCs that carries oxygen from the lungs and transports it throughout the body. We can manage it by consuming bell peppers as it contains a good amount of iron. Iron helps produce more RBCs in the body. Additionally, bell peppers are a rich source of vitamin C, which increases the absorption of iron in the gut.
Bell peppers help in preventing eye problems like macular degeneration, poor eyesight, cataract and retina damage, which mainly occurs due to infections, aging or as a result of excessive stress on the eyes. Lutein and zeaxanthin are the two kinds of carotenoids present in bell peppers that protect the retina from damage and lowers the risk of visual impairments. Red bell peppers also contain beta-carotene which converts to form vitamin A that helps improve night vision.
Maintains mental health
Bell pepper is beneficial in maintaining cognitive health. This is because bellpeppers contain vitamin B6 which increases the level of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine. As a result, it improves mood, maintains a higher energy level, builds concentration and regulates learning.
Maintains Skin Hydration
Bell peppers contain carotenoids, which improve skin health and promote collagen production. It contains vitamin E, which keeps the skin fresh and young. It also contains vitamin C, which maintains the moisture of skin and reduces wrinkles. Additionally, yellow bell peppers contain vitamin B3 or niacin which helps maintain skin health.
Supports Newborn growth
Bell peppers contain 14% of the daily recommended amount (RDA) of folate, which is a vital nutrient for pregnant women. This is because folate prevents birth defects and keeps the unborn baby healthy. It also promotes healthy neural tube development, helps the baby to grow at an appropriate rate and aids in normal foetal development.
How to Include Bell Pepper in Your Diet?
Bell peppers are easy to cook and tastes great. You can add bell peppers to chutneys and salads. Additionally, people who are on a restrictive diet can eat them as they are low in calories. An example is salsa sauce cooked using bell peppers, popular with many.
Nowadays, bell pepper is a common ingredient in most of the kitchens.
Here we tell you some ways of bell peppers benefits you:
- You can eat bell peppers daily in breakfast to ensure a good intake of various important nutrients.
- You can also add it to soups, stews as well as curries for a burst of flavours.
- Due to their sweet and tangy flavour, and vibrant colour, bell peppers are popularly used in fried-rice, noodles, pizza and pasta.
Thus, bell peppers not only give a fresh flavour to your dishes but also provide numerous health benefits. Do you know any other health benefits of eating bell peppers? Let us know in the comments box below!
Disclaimer: Some people can have an allergy or intolerance to bell peppers. If you experience any kind of allergic reactions like eczema or itching, or if you experience symptoms of intolerance such as vomiting or nausea, immediately visit a doctor.
100g of green bell pepper provides 20 Calories, Carbohydrates – 4.6g (Dietary Fiber – 1.7g, Sugar – 2.4g), Protein – 0.9g, Fat – 0.2g (Saturated fat-0.1g,PUFA – 0.1g, MUFA – 0g), Sodium – 3mg, Potassium – 175mg
and percentage daily value of Vitamin A – 7%, Vitamin C – 134%, Iron – 1%, Calcium – 1%, Vitamin B-6 – 10% (based on a 2,000 calorie diet).