Are You a Fan of Bell Peppers? This Mislabeled Fruit Has Lots of Health BenefitsNutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
You may classify them as veggies, but bell peppers are actually fruits! They come from the reproductive bodies of seed plants, which make them fruits. Bell peppers, also called sweet peppers, are a part of the nightshade family, which also includes potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant. And as you probably know, bell peppers come in a variety of beautiful, bright colors: yellow, orange, red and green. What you may not know is that different colored bell peppers are achieved through varying harvesting times. For example, green varieties are harvested before red or yellow pigment appears.
You have probably noticed the taste of bell peppers varies depending on the color. Red peppers tend to taste more sweet than green. And they also vary regarding nutrient content. Green bell peppers contain more vitamin C than orange.
Regardless, all bell peppers are nutrient-rich. According to a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “[a]ll bell peppers were noted to have equivalent amounts of antioxidant activity.”
Whatever your preference when you pick your bell peppers, you’re picking a food that is beneficial to your health.
Bell peppers are “brain food.”
“A study performed on rats established the antioxidant ability of bell pepper which has protective effects on the brain cells. The chemical compounds present in bell pepper actively prevented oxidation of the essential fats within the brain cells that are considered necessary for optimal brain function,” reports the NIH.
Bell peppers may help prevent cancer.
These plant-based antioxidants found in all bell peppers may help prevent various types of cancer. Antioxidants help protect the body from free radical damage and oxidative stress, something we are all exposed to through the environment and certain lifestyle habits, like smoking and eating too much sugar. Antioxidants also help reduce the effects of inflammation, which may also increase the risk of developing cancer.
Bell peppers may help renew your cells.
Along with their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which aid in cell renewal, bell peppers are rich in vitamin B6. This essential B vitamin helps with cell renewal and many other important bodily functions, including metabolizing fats and proteins.
To take a deeper dive into the benefits of bell (sweet) peppers, let’s take a look at the nutrient content of one larger-sized yellow bell pepper:
- Calcium, 20 mg. You probably know calcium is critical for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. What you may not know is this mineral may decrease your risk for colorectal cancer. Recent studies confirm that high calcium intake is associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer among both men and women.
- Magnesium, 22 mg. This mineral is needed by more than 300 human body enzymes to facilitate biochemical reactions. It helps create energy for the body and activates muscle and nerve tissues by enabling potassium and calcium transfer through your cell membranes. If magnesium levels in the body are too low, whole body systems don’t work properly, resulting in fatigue and cramps.
- Phosphorus, 45 mg. This mineral works with calcium to build strong bones and teeth. It is also needed to help balance and use other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, iodine, magnesium and zinc.
- Potassium, 394 mg. This is a must-have mineral. Potassium works with sodium to balance the fluids and electrolytes in your body. It helps keep blood pressure under control and may help reduce kidney stones and bone loss as you age. It may also help decrease your risk for stroke.
- Vitamin C, 341.3 mg. Vitamin C is great at improving your immune system. Vitamin C also encourages new collagen synthesis, which means it helps build new cells. If you are recovering from surgery or have a wound that is in the process of healing, eating some vitamin C packed bell peppers may help speed up the process.
- Folate, 48 µg. Folate (also known as vitamin B9) is one of the eight B vitamins. B vitamins help our bodies properly use the food we eat as fuel. They are involved in building DNA that the body uses for cell growth. For more information on folate, click here.
- Vitamin A, 372 IU. This vitamin is an antioxidant that supports the immune system and is good for skin and eye health. Vitamin A also promotes cell growth.
Bell peppers are great simply chopped up and tossed over a fresh, green salad. If you want to get a bit more creative and add some protein at the same time, try this quinoa stuffed bell pepper.
Do you like bell peppers? Do you prefer a certain color of bell pepper over another? Please share and tell us about how you personally incorporate this fruit (yes, fruit) into your diet.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.