Red Bell Pepper 101

If you appreciate the beauty of brilliant colours, then you most certainly enjoy the eye catching yellow, orange, green and red bell pepper arrangement at your grocery store. These brightly coloured peppers, known scientifically as Capsicum annuum, are native to the Americas and belong to the Solanaceae family, which also includes eggplant, tomato, potato, and other peppers such as cayenne, and chili.

The bell pepper’s journey begins as an unripe green vegetable; as it begins to mature its red colour appears as well as its sweetness level. Studies have found that out of all the colours, red peppers have the highest amount of health promoting phytochemicals. They can be found in grocery stores year round, but are in peak season during the summer and early fall months.

Nutrient Values of Red Bell Peppers

  • ½ cup serving, raw – 23 calories
  • 6% carbohydrate
  • 2.1% fiber
  • 1 % protein
  • 0.6% fat
  • 92% water

Health Benefits of Red Bell Peppers

Vitamin C
When we think of vitamin C rich foods, we tend to think citrus fruits, but keep in mind that veggies can also be a great source. The red pepper is the best vegetable source of Vitamin C and even outshines most fruit; a ½ cup (raw) serving provides 144-166 mg of vitamin C. Recommendations for this vitamin 75-90mg/day, this means that one serving provides more than double the recommended amount!

Ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, belongs to the water soluble group of vitamins. These vitamins travel through the bloodstream and are rarely stored in our bodies, instead we use what we require and excrete the rest (a good thing to keep in mind when buying vitamins!)
*Did you know – Smokers require an extra 35 mg of vitamin C per day.

Vitamin C benefits:
• Helps our bodies absorb iron from plant sources (as much as four times!)
• Has a big role in our immune system, Helps keep our immune system healthy
• Antioxidant – scavenges damaging free radicals in our bodies. Since it is water soluble, it destroys free radicals in a lot of different areas of our bodies.
• Helps keep gums, bones, and muscles healthy

Vitamin E
Recommendations for this vitamin is 15 mg per day; ½ cup red peppers provide 2mg.
Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin that is generally found in nuts, nut butters, seeds, wheat germ and vegetable oils; and in small quantities is also found in some fruits /vegetable and fish. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protects our cells from free radical damage, and helps reduce our risk for heart disease and cancer.

Vitamin A
Recommendations for this vitamin is 700 RAE ug/day for females and 900 RAE ug/day for males; ½ cup of red pepper provides 198 RAE (retinol activity equivalents).
See last month’s post for the Vitamin A benefits of carrots.

How to: Pick & Store

How to pick: Choose peppers that are vividly coloured, have a firm thick skin without wrinkles, blemishes or soft spots, and a nicely shaped green stem. If they feel heavier then they look, that is a good thing; it indicates fully developed walls.
How to store: Place your peppers in a plastic bag (unwashed & uncut) in your fridge’s crisper. Depending on their ripeness level can last anywhere from 3 to 10 days.

Preparation Methods

Vitamin C is easily destroyed by heat, for this reason, peppers should be cooked in the least amount of time and ideally without water just until they are tender crisp. Here are the top picks for best flavour and vitamin retention.

• Raw
• Grilled
• Sautéed

Bell Pepper Recipes

Peppy Salsa

Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Quinoa Salad

Red Peppers stuffed with Orzo and Feta

Red Pepper Couscous

 

February 1, 2012
Revive Wellness