Bell peppers, also known as sweet pepper or capsicum are basically peppers of less pungent varieties which are available in different colours such as yellow, red, green, purple and orange. These plump, bell shaped vegetables were cultivated more than 900 years ago in south and central America and were given the name pepper by the European colonizers of North America. These can easily grow in different types of climate.
Sweet bell peppers are a great combination of tangy taste and crunchy texture. These are scientifically known as Capsicum annuum and belong to the category of nightshade (solanaceae) family of plants comprising of chilli pepper, cayenne pepper, potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant. Green and purple peppers are slightly bitter in taste whereas red, yellow and orange have a sweeter and fruity taste.
The substance ‘capsaicin’ which controls hotness in peppers is present in very small amounts in bell peppers making it less ‘hot’. Though, they are available throughout the year, they are most abundant and tasty in the summers. The content of vitamin C and carotenoid also increases when the pepper is at the peak of its ripeness. These colourful and attractive vegetables are enjoyed all over the world in a variety of cuisines.
A. Health Benefits Of Bell Pepper
Apart from imparting flavor and attractiveness to bland dishes, bell peppers are loaded with nutrients like vitamins A, C and K, carotenoids and dietary fiber which makes them immensely beneficial for the overall good health. Bell peppers also have vitamin B6 and folate that help to lower homocysteine levels, thus reducing the risk of heart disease. Some of the health benefits of bell peppers are given below:
1. Good for Eyes:
Being high in vitamin A, red bell peppers help to support healthy eyesight, especially night vision. They are a rich source of a carotenoid called lutein that helps in lowering the risk of macular degeneration of the eyes. Macular degeneration of eyes is the most common cause of age related visual loss. Bell peppers also protect your eyes from cataracts due to their high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin C.
2. Burns more Calories:
Red bell peppers help in activating thermogenesis and increase the metabolic rate. Capsaicin which is responsible for increasing the hotness of other peppers is found in bell peppers in very small amounts. Thus, they have a mild thermogenic action that increases the metabolism without increasing the heart rate and blood pressure unlike hot peppers. Hence, they can support weight loss.
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3. Anti-Cancer Benefits:
Being rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, bell pepper provides several anti-cancer benefits. The risk of cancer increases due to chronic excessive inflammation and chronic unwanted oxidative stress. These factors can be offset with regular intake of phytonutrients having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, bell peppers also contain health supportive sulphur compounds. The enzymes in bell pepper help to prevent gastric cancer and esophageal cancer. The carotenoid lycopene is found to be effective in the prevention of prostate, bladder, cervix and pancreas cancer.
4. Cardiovascular Benefits:
Red bell peppers are rich in lycopene, thus making them excellent for a healthy heart whereas green bell peppers are a good source of cholesterol lowering fiber. Increased homocysteine levels can lead to a higher risk of heart disease. Bell peppers contain vitamin B6 and folate which help to lower homocysteine levels. In addition to these, the powerful antioxidants vitamins A and C present in these vegetables help to wipe out free radicals. Potassium contained in bell peppers lowers about 162 milligrams of blood pressure which is also beneficial for heart.
5. Supports the Immune System:
Vitamin C is vital for maintaining a healthy immune system and for building strong collagen to support skin and joints. It is instrumental in lowering the risk of arthritis and reducing inflammation. Vitamin K aids in the formation of blood clots. It is important for developing strong bones and protection of cells from oxidative damage.
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6. Great source of Vitamin B6 and Magnesium:
The combination of vitamin B6 and the mineral magnesium leads to decrease in anxiety levels, particularly due to pre-menstrual symptoms. Being a natural diuretic, vitamin B6 helps to reduce bloating and prevents hypertension.
7. Cures Iron Deficiency:
Red bell peppers provide almost 300 percent of the daily vitamin C requirement. Vitamin C is essential for the proper absorption of iron. Thus, those suffering from iron deficiency should consume red peppers.
8. Benefits of Capsaicin:
Capsaicin is found in the white membranes of peppers which is responsible for imparting heat to the seeds as well. It lowers the cholesterol levels and triglycerides. It kills the ulcer causing bacteria in the stomach and boosts immunity.
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9. Detoxifying Properties:
Bell peppers help in clearing out the congested mucus membranes in the nose and lungs and eliminate toxins through sweating.
10. Benefits of Potassium:
Bell peppers are good sources of potassium. This mineral helps in keeping the fluids and minerals balanced in the body. It enhances muscle function and regulates blood pressure.
11. Other Benefits:
Bell pepper juice has proven to be effective in curing gastrointestinal disorders such as ulcers, diarrhea and dyspepsia. It also lowers the incidence of several respiratory problems such as emphysema, asthma and infections in the lungs. Drinking bell pepper juice is an effective remedy against sore throats and nose bleeds.
Hair Benefits Of Bell Pepper
Getting healthy, long and thick hair is everyone’s dream. But unfortunately an unhealthy lifestyle and lack of proper supply of nutrients in the diet often lead to several hair problems like hair thinning, dandruff, split ends and hair loss. Now this might appear strange, but bell pepper can support hair growth by improving the circulation of blood to the scalp. Given below are the benefits of bell peppers for hair.
12. High Silicon Supports Hair & Nails:
Green bell pepper has a high content of natural silicon, which may support healthy hair and nails.
13. Stimulates Hair Growth:
By stimulating circulation, bell peppers improve the effectiveness of other herbs. Red bell pepper is a natural hair growth stimulator and is highly effective in curing hair loss. In case of hair loss, capsicum improves blood flow which is vital for proper growth of hair and protection of hair follicles from the effects of dihydro testosterone (DHT).
14. Strengthens Hair Follicles:
One of the reasons why bell peppers plants and the fruits are good for hair is the fact that they are excellent sources of vitamin C which is essential for hair health. Vitamin C helps in proper absorption of iron, thus ensuring that there is enough iron in red blood cells to carry oxygen to hair follicles. Vitamin C is also used in the formation of collagen. Collagen is required by hair follicles, blood vessel and skin to stay healthy and for their optimal growth. Vitamin C deficiency can cause dry, splitting hair that breaks easily.
15. Enhances Hair Growth & Health:
Applying bell pepper on hair can be effective in triggering hair growth through the improvement of blood circulation in the scalp. Boil a few dry red bell peppers in water and leave it for 5 to 6 minutes. After cooling it, massage it on your scalp with the help of a cotton pad and leave it for 10 to 15 minutes. Then wash off the hair. This should be done twice a week for best results. The spiciness of bell pepper enhances the growth and health of the hair.
[Read:Benefits Of Red Bell Pepper]
Skin Benefits Of Bell Pepper
A healthy and radiant skin plays an important role in enhancing the overall appearance. Some of the common skin problems faced today by many people are the appearance of wrinkles, discolouration, thickening and decrease in elasticity. Though genetics largely determines when the skin starts showing signs of ageing, there can be other causes as well such as skin damage and unhealthy lifestyle. Oxidation is a chemical process in which the free radicals steal electrons from healthy cells, thereby causing skin damage. Most of the skin damage occurs due to exposure to smoking and sunlight.
16. Fights Oxidative Damage:
Red, green and yellow bell peppers are rich in vitamin C which helps in the production of collagen. Collagen keeps the skin firm and protects the cells from further damage. It increases the ability of the skin to fight against oxidative damage.
17. Turns Skin Healthy & Youthful:
The antioxidants and phytochemicals present in bell pepper juice makes the skin healthy and youthful.
18. Heals Shingles & Athlete’s Foot:
Due to their anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, bell peppers can alleviate infections like shingles and athlete’s foot in combination with proper medication.
19. Reverses Signs of Ageing:
Consumption of bell pepper juice helps in reversing the signs of ageing due to its high antioxidant levels. Bell peppers protect the skin from damage-causing free radicals, thus promoting healthy and younger looking skin.
20. Clears Skin Blemishes & Rashes:
A mixture of carrot and green bell pepper juice can be very effective in clearing blemishes and rashes on the skin.
Nutritional Value Of Bell Peppers:
All peppers are good source of vitamin A, C and K; however, the red ones are the highest in nutritional value. Red peppers also contain carotenoids such as lycopene and beta-cryptoxanthin. They are rich in phytochemicals and have significant amount of fiber. A substance capsaicin which occurs in the white membranes of other peppers is present in lesser amounts in bell peppers. Some of the nutrients available in bell peppers are given below.
Bell Pepper Nutritional Chart, USDA:
|Peppers, sweet, green, raw|
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||84 kJ (20 kcal)|
|- Sugars||2.4 g|
|- Dietary fiber||1.7 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.||18 μg (2%)|
|- beta-carotene||208 μg (2%)|
|- lutein and zeaxanthin||341 μg|
|Thiamine (vit. B1)||0.057 mg (5%)|
|Riboflavin (vit. B2)||0.028 mg (2%)|
|Niacin (vit. B3)||0.48 mg (3%)|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||0.099 mg (2%)|
|Vitamin B6||0.224 mg (17%)|
|Folate (vit. B9)||10 μg (3%)|
|Vitamin C||80.4 mg (97%)|
|Vitamin E||0.37 mg (2%)|
|Vitamin K||7.4 μg (7%)|
|Calcium||10 mg (1%)|
|Iron||0.34 mg (3%)|
|Magnesium||10 mg (3%)|
|Manganese||0.122 mg (6%)|
|Phosphorus||20 mg (3%)|
|Potassium||175 mg (4%)|
|Sodium||3 mg (0%)|
|Zinc||0.13 mg (1%)|
- Vitamin C: Bell peppers are rich in vitamin C. In fact, they contain more than double the amount of vitamin C found in citrus fruits. A cup of chopped bell peppers provides more than 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of antioxidant vitamin C which is essential for tissue health and immunity.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A is vital for vision, red blood cell production and a healthy immune system. A cup of chopped bell peppers provides more than a day’s requirement of vitamin A. Green bell peppers contain 551 international units of vitamin A per 149 grams whereas red bell peppers provide 4666 IU of vitamin A which is almost equivalent to a day’s requirement based on a 2000 calorie diet.
- Carotenoids: Different types of carotenoid nutrients like lycopene, luteine, cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene are present in bell peppers. Yellow, red and orange bell peppers are rich in carotenoids. The availability of carotenoids depends upon the ripening of this vegetable.
- Calories: Bell peppers are low in calories, providing around 30 to 40 calories per cup of chopped pepper. Due to their sweet and crunchy flavour, they can be a good substitute for high-calorie chips.
- Fiber: Intake of fiber is vital for digestion and reduces the risk of constipation and hemorrhoids. The daily recommendation of fiber is 21 to 25 grams for women and 30 to 38 grams for men. A cup of green bell pepper provides about 2.5 grams of fiber.
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