Bell Peppers 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
Written by Atli Arnarson, PhD From Healthline
Bell peppers (Capsicum annuum) are fruits that belong to the nightshade family.
They are related to chili peppers, tomatoes, and breadfruit, all of which are native to Central and South America.
Also called sweet peppers or capsicums, bell peppers can be eaten either raw or cooked.
Like their close relatives, chili peppers, bell peppers are sometimes dried and powdered. In that case, they are referred to as paprika.
They are low in calories and exceptionally rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants, making them an excellent addition to a healthy diet.
Bell peppers come in various colors, such as red, yellow, orange, and green — which are unripe.
Green, unripe peppers have a slightly bitter flavor and are not as sweet as fully ripe ones.
This article tells you everything you need to know about peppers.
Fresh, raw bell peppers are mainly composed of water (92%). The rest is carbs and small amounts of protein and fat.
The main nutrients in 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of raw, red bell peppers are (1Trusted Source):
- Calories: 31
- Water: 92%
- Protein: 1 gram
- Carbs: 6 grams
- Sugar: 4.2 grams
- Fiber: 2.1 grams
- Fat: 0.3 grams
Bell peppers are primarily composed of carbs, which account for most of their calorie content — with 3.5 ounces (100 grams) holding 6 grams of carbs.
The carbs are mostly sugars — such as glucose and fructose — which are responsible for the sweet taste of ripe bell peppers.
SUMMARYBell peppers are mainly made up of water and carbs. Most of the carbs are sugars, such as glucose and fructose. Bell peppers are also a decent source of fiber.
Bell peppers are loaded with various vitamins and minerals (1Trusted Source):
- Vitamin C. One medium-sized red bell pepper provides 169% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin C, making it one of the richest dietary sources of this essential nutrient.
- Vitamin B6. Pyridoxine is the most common type of vitamin B6, which is a family of nutrients important for the formation of red blood cells.
- Vitamin K1. A form of vitamin K, also known as phylloquinone, K1 is important for blood clotting and bone health.
- Potassium. This essential mineral may improve heart health (2Trusted Source).
- Folate. Also known as vitamin B9, folate has a variety of functions in your body. Adequate folate intake is very important during pregnancy (3Trusted Source).
- Vitamin E. A powerful antioxidant, vitamin E is essential for healthy nerves and muscles. The best dietary sources of this fat-soluble vitamin are oils, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.
- Vitamin A. Red bell peppers are high in pro-vitamin A (beta carotene), which your body converts into vitamin A (4Trusted Source).
SUMMARYBell peppers are very high in vitamin C, with a single one providing up to 169% of the RDI. Other vitamins and minerals in bell peppers include vitamin K1, vitamin E, vitamin A, folate, and potassium.
The main compounds in bell peppers are:
- Capsanthin. Especially high in red bell peppers, capsanthin is a powerful antioxidant responsible for their brilliant red color (6, 7).
- Violaxanthin. This compound is the most common carotenoid antioxidant in yellow bell peppers (8Trusted Source).
- Lutein. While abundant in green (unripe) bell peppers and black paprika, lutein is absent from ripe bell peppers. Adequate intake of lutein may improve eye health (6, 9Trusted Source).
- Quercetin. Studies indicate that this polyphenol antioxidant may be beneficial for preventing certain chronic conditions, such as heart disease and cancer (4Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
- Luteolin. Similarly to quercetin, luteolin is an polyphenol antioxidant that may have a variety of beneficial health effects (4Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
SUMMARYBell peppers contain many healthy antioxidants, including capsanthin, violaxanthin, lutein, quercetin, and luteolin. These plant compounds are associated with many health benefits.
Like most whole plant foods, bell peppers are considered a healthy food.
High consumption of fruits and vegetables has been linked to a reduced risk of many chronic illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease.
In addition, bell peppers may have a number of other health benefits.
The most common types of visual impairments include macular degeneration and cataracts, the main causes of which are aging and infections (13Trusted Source).
However, nutrition may also play a significant role in developing these diseases.
A number of studies indicate that regular consumption of foods rich in these carotenoids may cut the risk of both cataracts and macular degeneration (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).
Thus, adding bell peppers to your diet may help lower your risk of visual impairments.
Anemia is a common condition characterized by a reduced ability of your blood to carry oxygen.
One of the most common causes of anemia is iron deficiency, the main symptoms of which are weakness and tiredness.
In fact, one medium-sized red bell pepper may contain 169% of the RDI for vitamin C (1Trusted Source).
For this reason, eating raw bell peppers alongside iron-rich foods — such as meat or spinach — may help increase your body’s iron stores, cutting your risk of anemia.