You can’t walk through the produce section of a grocery store without seeing multiple varieties of bell peppers.
Bell Peppers: Why They Are Awesome!
Here’s are six reasons why these nutritional powerhouses are a great addition to your diet:
- While most people think of bell peppers as vegetables, their seed-bearing nature classifies them as fruit.
- Green bell peppers are technically “unripe” peppers. We harvest them before they develop into yellow, orange and then red. Green peppers are slightly bitter and not as sweet as their more mature relative, the red pepper. Popular on veggie platters, they’re a low-calorie option. Enjoy them raw with a healthy dip or add into your favorite pasta sauce, stir fry or chili. Choose green bell peppers that are unblemished, firm and vibrant in color.
- Red bell peppers started green. Left on the vine to mature, they are the sweetest of all bell pepper varieties. Red bell peppers also pack the most punch when it comes to nutrient density. Add a pop of color and a juicy crunch to fajitas. Emulsify into a red pepper and tomato bisque. Or, keep slices in the refrigerator to grab when you’re looking for a healthy, satisfying snack.
- Bell peppers are naturally low in calories!
- One medium-sized red bell pepper provides a whopping 169% of the daily recommended intake for vitamin C. That makes them a welcome addition to a healthy diet. As humans, we cannot synthesize vitamin C endogenously (within our bodies). So, it’s crucial that we get it from the foods we eat or supplements. Vitamin C plays an important role in preventing heart disease, cancer, stroke, and other serious conditions. It’s involved in the formation of collagen and one of the many antioxidants that protects against damage from free radicals.
- Bell peppers are a great source of beta carotene, vitamin B6, vitamin K1, potassium, and folate, too.
Featured Recipe: Bell Pepper Relish
Pick up a few varieties of bell peppers and experiment with them. You can throw together this simple recipe for Bell Pepper Relish in under an hour. It’s a healthy alternative to a traditional relish.
Bell Pepper Relish
- 1large green bell pepper, chopped
- 1large red bell pepper, chopped
- 1large onion, chopped
- 1cupchopped tomato
- 1cupdistilled white vinegar
- 1tspcelery seeds
- 1/2tspmustard seeds
- 1/2tspdried tarragon, crumbled
- Combine all ingredients in a heavy large saucepan. Boil over medium-high heat until mixture thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes. Cool, cover and refrigerate. (Can be prepared 2 weeks ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
Abbi Bailey is an Employee Wellness Health Coach with Employee Wellness and Employer Health Management at the University of Vermont Medical Center.