Bell peppers, also known as sweet peppers, are often referred to as the Christmas ornaments of the vegetable world. Their unique plump bell shape and variety of vivid colors and sizes can perk up a salad, crudité or stir-fry, add crunch and flavor to pizza, and are amazingly tasty when roasted.
Their colors range from green, red, yellow, orange, purple, brown and even black, and all come from the same plant cultivar known scientifically as Capsicum annuum.
All color varieties of bell peppers contain an array of similar nutrients, while each color variety contains unique flavors and nutrients of their own.
Bell peppers are good sources of Vitamins A, C, E and B vitamins, as well as the minerals potassium and magnesium. They are also an excellent source of over 30 different carotenoids—a class of powerful phytonutrients that ward off a host of degenerative diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and macular degeneration. The most commonly known carotenoids found in bell peppers are alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin.
Here’s a short list of their many health benefits:
Because they are not fully ripened, green bell peppers have a slightly bitter and peppery flavor. Because their natural sugars have not yet fully developed, when cooked their flavor is more bland compared to the other color varieties.
Despite being harvested before they are ripe, green bell peppers are a very good source of vitamins A and C, which act as antioxidants to boost your immune system and to prevent inflammation, cancer and infections. Green bell peppers also contain a good amount of vitamin A, another vitamin that doubles as an antioxidant to enhance lung function, improve eyesight, and strengthen the immune system. They also contain potassium, which is important for regulating blood pressure.
2. Red Bell Pepper
Red bell peppers have the sweetest, almost fruity, rich flavor of all the color varieties, especially when roasted. They have the same vitamins and minerals as green bell peppers, but in much higher quantities, giving them more disease fighting potential. They have eleven times more beta-carotene, one and a half times more vitamin C, and ten times more vitamin A than green bell peppers.
In addition to their other nutrients, red bell peppers are the only variety that contains lycopene, the antioxidant that gives them their red color and is known to prevent certain types of cancer such as breast and prostate cancer. The zeaxanthin and lutein in red bell peppers is known to help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.
3. Yellow/Orange Bell Pepper
Orange and yellow peppers lack the bitterness of green peppers but are not quite as sweet as the red variety. Orange bell peppers are generally just slightly less sweet than reds, but they make up for it with a distinct flowery taste and aroma. Yellow bell peppers are also less sweet than the orange variety, but are somewhat bland in their taste.
Yellow and orange bell peppers contain the same type of nutrients as those found in red and green bell peppers, but their quantities are somewhat different. Overall, they are higher in nutrients than green peppers, but lower in nutrients than red peppers, with some exceptions. The amount of vitamin C is nearly double in yellow/orange bell peppers compared to green bell peppers, but the amount of beta-carotene and vitamin A is only one-third the amount of what is found in green bell peppers.
Watch the video below to see how to cut a bell pepper.