Bell pepper is a sweet and versatile fruit that is very rich in antioxidants. Botanically, these peppers are fruits, but we consume them as vegetables. There’s more to bell peppers than just their sweet and incredible taste. They are exceptionally rich in numerous essential vitamins, which account for many of its health benefits such as reducing cancer risk, improving vision, boosting immunity, aiding digestion, and improving skin health.
Botanical name: Capsicum annuum
Other names: Green pepper, Paprika, Sweet pepper, Bell pepper, Sweet bell pepper.
Bell pepper is the fruit of the pepper plant, Capsicum annuum, a herbaceous plant of the botanical family Solanaceae. The plant reaches a height of about 60 cm. The fruit varies in color from green, red, yellow to even orange.
- Carbohydrates are present in bell pepper in about 4.6% of its total content.
- It contains very little amount of fats, less than 0.2% of its total content.
- Proteins are also present in little amounts, just about 0.86% of its total content.
- In terms of vitamins, bell peppers are very rich in vitamin C, with just a 100 gram serving proving about 97% of the daily requirement for this vitamin. Other vitamins contained in significant amounts include vitamin A, some B-group vitamins, and vitamin K.
- Bell peppers are not that rich when it comes to minerals, but they contain little amounts of manganese, magnesium, and iron.
- Vegetable fiber – Sweet pepper contains vegetable fiber in about 2% of its total content. The presence of this fiber, together with capsaicin, contributes to their laxative effect.
- Capsaicin – This substance is responsible for making red pepper hot to taste. Sweet pepper contains only about 0.1% of this substance, but hot pepper contains about 1% of capsaicin, reason why its even more hot to taste. Capsaicin in low quantity as found in sweet pepper, helps serve as an aperitif and stimulates digestion, unlike when it is in high quantity which can irritate the mucosa and skin.
- Flavonoids – These are found in significant quantities in pepper. They are potent anti-inflammatory antioxidants which help protect the circulatory system.
6 Benefits and medicinal uses of bell pepper
- Relieves constipation
- Aids digestion
- Prevents cancer
- Improves vision
- Improves skin health
- Boosts immunity
Bell peppers have for a long time been known to stop constipation. This is due to their fiber content, as well as the presence of a substance known as capsaicin. They collectively make pepper to act as a mild laxative and also an anti-flatulent. Fiber can help add some bulk to stool, while improving peristaltic action of the gut at the same time.
The regular consumption of bell pepper may be beneficial in getting rid of certain stomach disorders. It is considered beneficial for those suffering from dyspepsia or indigestion caused by digestive atonia or scanty digestive juices. This is probably due to bell pepper working as an aperitif by stimulating the flow of gastric juice and reducing inflammation.
Fiber which is present in bell pepper in significant quantities, has been found to stimulate the production of digestive enzymes, which are necessary for breaking food particles into smaller pieces. The same fiber has also been found to improve the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the gut.
Bells peppers are rich in carotenoids. Beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein are all different varieties of carotenoid which are all found in bell pepper. They all act as antioxidants with strong cancer-fighting properties (1). Antioxidants fight the activities of free radicals, which are substances that work to destroy cell membranes and DNA, thereby causing cancerous growths.
Moreover, bell peppers are rich in vitamin C, which is another effective antioxidant. It can also neutralize the activities of free radicals in our bodies, and prevent the formation of cancer.
Bell peppers are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which are also antioxidants. These two compounds are a must-have for everyone who wants to maintain a healthy vision. In fact, green bell peppers are one of the richest natural source for these important eye-compounds.
Many people refer to lutein as the “eye vitamin”. It is used to prevent many eye diseases including macular degeneration of the retina, cataracts, and retinitis pigmentosa.
Researchers have found that lutein and zeaxanthin helps block blue light from reaching the underlying structures of the retina, thereby reducing the risk of light-induced oxidative damage that could lead to macular degeneration (2). If you are unaware, macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in older adults.
Improves skin health
Bell peppers have some beneficial properties on the skin. They are very rich in vitamin C, a compound that can help prevent skin aging, wrinkle formation, and skin dryness. Vitamin C is also involved in the production of collagen, the main structural protein found in our skin.
Worth mentioning is the antioxidant activity of bell pepper, which can help improve the well-being of skin cells by preventing them from being acted upon by free radicals. A good way to prevent skin cancer.
Sweet peppers can help boost your body’s immune system. Their richness in vitamin C accounts for this beneficial property. Vitamin C helps stimulate the production of white blood cells in the body. These cells are responsible for fighting disease-causing microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses, and prevent them from invading our system.
Also, the rich amount of antioxidants found in bell peppers help boost immunity by fighting off free radicals in the body.