A foodie's quest to turn up the heat through strength and conditioning with whole food and a hungry mind.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Red, green, yellow, orange, brown, and even black, bell peppers are a smart choice to include in your diet. Despite the numerous colors, bell peppers all come from the same seed, Capsicum annuum. Some of the variations come from what the grower uses as a cultivar; a variety of a plant that has been deliberately selected for certain desirable characteristics.

Adding the palette of peppers to your grocery list will come with a slew of tasty benefits.

Some of the notable benefits are:

  • Anti-oxidants – high in Vitamins A and C, which reduce the effect of free radicals inside the body
  • Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease – Folic acid, Vitamin B6, and Fiber help decrease cholesterol and protect from blood vessels being damaged
  • Healthy Eyes – the vitamins in bell peppers help protect against cataracts. Yellow and red bell peppers are a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been found to protect against macular degeneration
  • Reduce Inflammation – the Vitamin C in bell peppers helps prevent inflammation from arthritis or muscle damage

Each distinctive color provides nutritional benefits different from each other as well. Green bells provide a wealth of chlorophyll while yellow peppers have more lutein and zeaxanthin. The orange variety have more carotenes (alpha-, beta-, and gamma-); and red peppers are a big supply of the carotenoids astaxanthin and lycopene.

In case you’re wondering (because I did), the definition of caroteniod according to http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Carotenoids is:

Noun 1. carotenoid - any of a class of highly unsaturated yellow to red pigments occurring in plants and animals
carotene - yellow or orange-red fat-soluble pigments in plants
lycopene - carotenoid that makes tomatoes red; may lower the risk of prostate cancer
beta-carotene - an isomer of carotene that is found in dark green and dark yellow fruits and vegetables
lutein, xanthophyl, xanthophyll - yellow carotenoid pigments in plants and animal fats and egg yolks
zeaxanthin - yellow carotenoid (isomeric with lutein and occurs widely with it) that is the main pigment in yellow Indian corn
antioxidant - substance that inhibits oxidation or inhibits reactions promoted by oxygen or peroxides
phytochemical - a chemical substance obtained from plants that is biologically active but not nutritive
pigment - dry coloring material (especially a powder to be mixed with a liquid to produce paint, etc.)

These bell shaped veggies are easy to incorporate in any diet by eating them raw. Red, yellow, and orange peppers are the sweetest varieties and are great cut into strips for easy, healthy finger foods. Raw pepper strips are a great idea for a kid’s snack……adults too!! So put that bag of chips back and grab some peppers. The green and black bells are better when roasted as they have a slight bitter taste. But don’t fret, bell peppers are not hot since they boast a gene that eliminates the compound to blame for spice, capsaicin.

Here are a few other ideas to add bell peppers to your meal:
- add chopped peppers to a healthy tuna or chicken salad

- serve different colors on a crudité dish for a healthy presentation

- roast your favorite color, peel the skin, and puree with other veggies or beans, garlic, and some spices for a great go-to dip anytime of day. Also works great as a cold or hot soup.

- put on skewers with other veggies of choice, a lean meat (if desired), and grill to bring out the sweetness of the veggies
- stuff with quinoa, salsa, beans, and other ingredients for a healthy Mexican inspired dish to wow your friends and family.

- spread thin pizza crust and bake instead of sauce for a great and easy snack or add more toppings for a meal.
The bell pepper is a very versatile food to use in cooking, see what you can create in the kitchen to start reaping the benefits of bells!

I will leave you with a quick fact – pimentos and the spice paprika both come from red bell peppers.

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