Chicago Health | Homepage
Bring in the bell peppers!

Bring in the bell peppers!

Environmental Nutrition

By Lori Zanteson

Bell peppers, which are often mistakenly referred to as vegetables, are nutritious fruits with great health benefits.

The folklore

Thousands of years before Peter Piper picked the peck of pickled peppers, they were cultivated in South and Central America. Peppers were long known by their Spanish name, pimiento, but when Columbus brought them to Europe in 1493, Europeans noted that dried chili peppers were hotter than black pepper, the familiar spice ground from peppercorns, and we’ve called them — both the sweet and spicy varieties — peppers ever since. Bell peppers, or sweet peppers, are brightly hued and beautifully bell-shaped, ringing with high flavor and nutritional notes.

The facts

Green, red, white, yellow, orange, purple, brown and even black — bell peppers (Capsicum annuum) come in a rainbow of shades. Powerful, disease-fighting phytochemicals called carotenoids give bell peppers their vibrant colors. Members of the nightshade family, which includes eggplants, tomatoes and chili peppers, bell peppers may be eaten at any stage of growth, though their vitamin and nutrient content peaks at full ripeness. These fruits, which we treat as vegetables, are bursting with vitamins: a one-cup serving boasts 317 percent Daily Value (DV) of antioxidant vitamin C — more than twice that of an orange! That same serving contains a host of vitamins, including 93 percent DV of vitamin A, 22 percent DV of vitamin B6, and 12 percent DV of vitamin E.

The findings

Bell peppers contain more than 30 different carotenoids, including beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Increased consumption of a variety of fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids is associated with long-term reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration (JAMA Opthamology, December 2015). Bell peppers’ antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have not yet been studied for their anti-cancer potential, but reduced oxidative stress helps lower cancer risk. Eat bell peppers raw or gently cooked to maintain optimal health properties (Food and Chemical Toxicology, March 2013).

The finer points

Fresh peppers are available year round, but are most abundant in summer and early fall. They also are jarred, canned, frozen and dried as paprika. Choose vibrantly colored, smooth skinned fruits that feel firm and heavy for their size. Store seven to 10 days in the refrigerator. Stem, core and cut to your liking. Raw slices add flair to a crudite platter and make a fun cracker alternative topped with hummus, tapenade or nut butter. A gentle saute of multicolored peppers as a side dish or accompaniment to meat, chicken or fish will brighten any meal.

(Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384. www.EnvironmentalNutrition.com.)

(c) 2016 BELVOIR MEDIA GROUP. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

Fighting Obesity With Calorie Counts and Community Efforts

Fighting Obesity With Calorie Counts and Community Efforts

By Kevin Sterne A federal regulation that would have given consumers a better idea of their

Food as Medicine

Food as Medicine

How what you eat affects your mood By Nancy Maes “You are what you eat” may seem

Gut Relief

Gut Relief

Low-FODMAP diet may help those with stomach ills By Victoria Shanta Retelny, RDN Let’s face it, when

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Environmental Nutrition By Matthew Kadey, M.S., R.D., Environmental Nutrition Newsletter There is only so much food you

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I seem to be very

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

June 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
May 28, 2017 May 29, 2017 May 30, 2017 May 31, 2017 June 1, 2017 June 2, 2017 June 3, 2017
June 4, 2017 June 5, 2017 June 6, 2017 June 7, 2017 June 8, 2017 June 9, 2017 June 10, 2017
June 11, 2017 June 12, 2017 June 13, 2017 June 14, 2017 June 15, 2017 June 16, 2017 June 17, 2017
June 18, 2017 June 19, 2017 June 20, 2017 June 21, 2017 June 22, 2017 June 23, 2017 June 24, 2017
June 25, 2017 June 26, 2017 June 27, 2017 June 28, 2017 June 29, 2017 June 30, 2017 July 1, 2017

Recent Comments

Fund a Cure Night | The Griffith Family Foundation

Fund a Cure Night | The Griffith Family Foundation

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives