7 Health Benefits of Bell Peppers
Last updated on September 8, 2013
Sweet bell peppers are a member of the nightshade family of vegetables that includes chili peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes. For maximum nutritional benefits, bell peppers should be eaten raw as cooking, particularly at high temperatures, destroys many of their nutritional compounds. Here are 7 health benefits of bell peppers:
Bell peppers are rich with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that are essential for cancer prevention. Free radical damage to the cells and chronic inflammation are both high risk factors commonly associated with cancer development. It appears that the phytonutrients in peppers are a great way to reduce the risk of these conditions.
The antioxidant activity in bell peppers is excellent. These antioxidants come in many different forms including vitamin C, vitamin A as well as carotenoids, flavonoids and hydroxycinnamic acids. Bell peppers also have concentrated amounts of the powerful antioxidants beta-carotene and lycopene, known for the diverse ways in which they can help protect the body.
The many phytonutrients obtained from bell peppers have anti-inflammatory properties. This anti-inflammatory support is not only great for preventing cancer and disease, but also protects the heart and may lower the risk of conditions stemming from chronic inflammation such as arthritis.
High In Vitamin C
One cup of raw bell pepper contains nearly 200% the DV of vitamin C. Vitamin C has a wide range of health benefits but is most notable for its ability to boost the immune system and fight oxidative stress caused by free radical activity in the body.
Immune System Support
Along with being an excellent source of the immune boosting vitamin C, bell peppers contain a good amount of vitamin B6. B6 boosts vital chemical reactions throughout the body, particularly those associated with the immune system.
Foods with high antioxidant activity and anti-inflammatory properties like peppers, are great for the cardiovascular system. A leading risk factor for heart disease is chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, which may be reduced by eating bell peppers. In addition, capsaicin, the substance that gives peppers their spicy flavor, has been the subject of many different heart health studies. However, the amount of capsaicin in bell peppers is low compared to spicy peppers like cayenne and jalapeno.
Bell peppers are rich with two vitamins that are essential in eye health, particularly in warding off age related eye diseases. Vitamin C helps prevent cataracts while vitamin A is believed to prevent macular degeneration. Both vitamins promote strong, healthy eyes.