Bell Peppers come in brilliant jewel like colors. They need minimal or no cooking at all and add a dash or color and crunch to many dishes. Their tangy taste brings freshness to salads and pasta. Though they belong to the hot pepper family, this vegetable lacks ‘heat’ as they contain minimal quantities of capsaicin, the chemical that imparts ‘heat’ to peppers. The lack of capsaicin is more than made up by the presence of several other nutrients in bell peppers that render them a must have vegetable. An impressive array of phytochemicals is also present in bell peppers. They help in the fight against cancer and other diseases.
Another aspect that makes bell peppers attractive is the negligible amount of calories they contribute. For dieters this is very helpful as adding bell peppers increase visual appeal to dishes and some interesting crunch too. One cup of chopped bell pepper contains only 30 calories! But it provides the following nutrients:
- Vitamin C – 200% of the recommended daily value
- Vitamin A – 11% of the recommended daily value
- Vitamin B6 – 20% of the recommended daily value
- Vitamin K – 11% of the recommended daily value
- Vitamin B1 – 7% of the recommended daily value
- Vitamin B9 – 5% of the recommended daily value
Apart from vitamins, bell peppers contain significant quantities of magnesium, potassium, calcium and phosphorus.
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The vitamins and phytochemicals found in green peppers have the property of being anti-oxidants. The vitamin A that is present in bell peppers comes as beta carotene which is one of the best anti-oxidants to fight cancer with. Cancer is caused by rogue molecules of oxygen called free radicals. Anti-oxidants mop up these wandering free radicals before they can do any harm. Free radicals are also involved in the build-up of cholesterol in blood. This cholesterol, especially the dangerous LDL, forms plaque that deposits itself along the inner surface of blood vessels causing the passage to narrow. This hinders the smooth flow of blood.
Rich in Phytonutrients
Bell peppers are also rich in phytonutrients that fight inflammation. Inflammation anywhere in the body causes pain. Phytonutrients in bell peppers reduce pain. Inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis is controlled by phytonutrients. Yet another benefit bestowed by this wonder chemical is relaxing the airways thereby providing relief to asthma patients. Most people consider citrus fruits to be the best source of vitamin C but bell peppers contain double the vitamin C they have. The flavonoids they contain inhibit the formation of blood clots that lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Vitamins B6 and B9 in bell peppers reduce homocysteine that is a natural toxic byproduct of biochemical processes that take place in the body. When the levels of homocysteine go up, there is increased threat of heart attacks and strokes. Vitamin B6 and B9 change homocysteine into heart friendly molecules that actually protect the heart. Bell pepper has an important role to play in keeping the colon healthy. It does this by supplying fiber. The presence of fiber speeds up the transit of solid wastes through the gut thereby not allowing build-up of toxic materials.