Members of the nightshade family of plants, bell peppers are related to potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplants. Native to Central and South American, bell peppers come in an interesting array of colors such as purple, red, yellow, and green. Used to make spices like paprika and pimento, bell peppers have some very good attributes that make them well worth incorporating into your diet. The following article discusses the healthful properties of bell peppers.
Nutritional Information of bell peppers
First of all, bell peppers are considered highly nutritious. Just munching a mere 3.5 ounces of raw bell pepper can provide a body with significant amounts of vitamin C, vitamin B6, beta-carotene, vitamin K, thiamine, and folic acid. Furthermore, bell peppers provide important antioxidant action that can help reduce the number of dangerous free radicals roaming around the body.
While all-around nutrition is essential to maintain good health, healing and health benefits can also be derived from bell peppers. The vitamin C and beta-carotene content of these peppers has been shown to help protect against cataracts. The capsaicin and flavonoids of bell peppers have also been helpful for preventing blood clot formation, which, in turn, provides a lower likelihood for stroke or heart attack. While people with elevated levels of cholesterol have been encouraged to consume chili peppers which are also incredibly healthful, some people might prefer to consume the milder flavors of bell peppers which can also help lower cholesterol levels.
Interestingly, when it comes to bell peppers, color can actually make a difference to your health. Red bell peppers have been shown to offer better protection against heart disease and even cancer. Red bell peppers have higher concentrations of nutrients than the others. While any color bell pepper will provide healthful properties, the red variety packs the most healthful punch. Their intense color can also add a bright splash to any dish.
Bell peppers are essentially grown in tropical and temperate climates. It appears they originated in South American upwards of seven thousand years ago. Today, they are commercially grown in places like Mexico, China, and Spain. Yet, because they are easy to grow and adapt well to many garden locations, they can easily be grown in most backyards.
When buying bell peppers at your local grocery store or farm stand, look for peppers that are both fresh and firm. The best peppers will also present their characteristically bright skin. Avoid dry-looking peppers with lots of wrinkles. Summer tends to provide the greatest stores of bell peppers, but keep in mind that they will only last in the refrigerator for about one week. Bell peppers can also be frozen, but for best results, freeze them whole. Also, it is not necessary to blanch them before freezing. One further reminder—buy organic peppers when possible. Pesticide residues have been found on the skins of bell peppers so they most always be thoroughly washed before eating or adding to recipes.
While raw bell peppers are tasty and can easily be tossed in salads or on tacos, they can also be baked into casseroles, sautéed with chicken or beef, and even grilled on their own with a splash of olive oil and spray of lemon juice. Their attractive colors make them the stand outs of any vegetable tray. Their interesting colors also make them appealing to children and bell peppers are easy to slice in a variety of interesting shapes; chop them up and add them to your kids’ favorite meals like pizza or melts.
Article written by: J. A. Young