Making a garden salad for lunch? Don’t forget to add some bell peppers. Not only do bell peppers add color – especially the red ones – but they really boost the nutritional value of a salad. What are the health benefits of bell peppers?
Health Benefits of Bell Peppers: Red or Green?
Both red and green bell peppers are nutritious, but if you don’t know which one to use, choose the red ones. Red bell peppers are a good source of lycopene, a carotenoid that’s not found in green peppers. Lycopenes are the same bright red carotenes that give processed tomatoes their nutritional punch. Plus, some studies show that lycopenes help to lower the risk of heart disease and prostate cancer – although its benefits against prostate cancer have recently been called into question. The lycopene found in red peppers has the most powerful antioxidant activity of any member of the carotenoid family including carrots.
Health Benefits of Bell Peppers: They’re Good for Your Heart
Lycopene rich red peppers are a particularly good choice for heart health; but green peppers keep you out of the cardiologist’s office too because they’re a good source of cholesterol lowering soluble fiber. Bell peppers also contain B6 and folate to help lower homocysteine levels. High homocysteine levels have been associated with a higher risk of heart disease. Bell peppers are also an excellent source of the powerful antioxidant vitamins A and C which help to wipe out free radicals that oxidize cholesterol and lead to heart disease. There’s 162 milligrams of blood pressure lowering potassium in a cup of bell peppers – another positive for heart health.
Health Benefits of Bell Peppers: They’re Good for Your Eyes
Red bell peppers are an especially good choice for protecting vision. They’re an excellent source of lutein, a carotenoid that helps to lower the risk of macular degeneration of the eyes – the most common cause of age-related visual loss. Eating bell peppers may also reduce the risk of developing cataracts due to their high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin C.
Health Benefits of Bell Peppers: They’re an Excellent Source of Vitamin C
Bell peppers are a surprisingly good source of vitamin C with 175 mg. in a single cup. Studies have shown that a diet rich in vitamin C may lower the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis and reduce inflammation in those who already have it. Vitamin C is also important for a healthy immune system and for building strong collagen to better support skin and joints. Oranges aren’t the only good source of vitamin C!
Other Benefits of Bell Peppers
Because red bell peppers are such a good source of carotenoids, they may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Plus, they’re so low in calories you can eat them to your heart’s content. One word of warning. Red bell peppers are often heavily sprayed with pesticides, so buy them organic when you can.