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The Health Benefits of Red Peppers

Wednesday, July 24 2013

by LRMC nutrition expert Sandra Harrison, MSA, RD, supervisor of clinical nutrition services

Peppers, whether hot to the taste or not, add spice and color to your foods.  They also help you get some of your daily vitamins including compounds that may help with weight loss, pain reduction and other benefits.  Being nutrient-dense, peppers are one of the richest sources of vitamin C (one cup a day can provide more than 100 percent of your daily needs).

A large red bell pepper provides 51 calories, 10 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of protein, virtually no fat and 3 grams of fiber, according the the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Although all bell peppers are good sources of vitamins A and C, red bell peppers contain larger amounts of these vitamins than bell peppers of other colors.  These vitamins work as antioxidants to neutralize free radicals and reduce the risk of disease (vitamin A may help preserve eyesight and fend off infections; vitamin C may help lower cancer risk and protect against cataracts).    

Perhaps the most beneficial nutrient that red bell peppers provide is a healthy dose of antioxidants.   Red peppers provide more antioxidants than carrots, broccoli, cabbage and spinach, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.   

Red bell peppers also contain the phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin.  These are the only carotenoids found in the lens and retina of the eye.  Consuming foods that contain lutein and zeaxanthin may slow the development of macular degeneration and cataracts, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.  And, in case you wondered, red bell peppers are simply green peppers that have been given time to ripen, producing a sweeter flavor along with that rich color. 

Try the recipe below and begin enjoying the flavor, nutrition and health benefits of red peppers.

 Roasted Red Bell Peppers

by Gourmet Magazine, May 2005

10 servings

 5 red bell peppers

2 small garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

2 Tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil

½ tsp. balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano

¾ tsp. coarse sea salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

Prepare grill for cooking. 

Lay bell peppers on their sides on lightly oiled grill rack and roast, turning occasionally with tongs, until skins are blackened, 10-12 minutes.

Transfer to a bowl, then cover and let steam 10 minutes.  Peel and seed peppers, than cut into ¼ inch thick strips.

Stir together garlic, oil, vinegar, oregano, sea salt and pepper and marinate 30 minutes at room temperature.

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