The bell pepper, also known as the sweet pepper or capsicum, is a vegetable belonging to the Capsicum annuum species. The bell pepper has little pungency relative to other peppers like the jalapeno, habanero, and chili pepper, which is how it earned its name as the sweet pepper. This is because the bell pepper is the only pepper in the species that does not produce capsaicin, the critical chemical responsible for the burning sensation in your mouth and stomach. Bell peppers and black pepper are not related botanically despite having the name pepper. Black pepper comes from the plant Piper nigrum and gains its heat from the chemical piperine. Native to Mexico, Central America, and South America, the fruit can be cultivated in many colors like green, yellow, red, orange, brown, white, and purple.
Here are the 7 health benefits of bell peppers.
1. Bell peppers could help improve your eye health.
Bell peppers have more than 30 different kinds of carotenoids including alpha-carotene, cryptoxanthin, beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, and zeaxanthin. Depending on the colors of the bell peppers, they contain various amounts and ratio of carotenoids. Carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin could help ward off eye damage and diseases like age-related macular degeneration and night blindness.
2. Bell peppers could help reduce your risk of cancer.
Carotenoids are plant pigments that are responsible for the bright red, orange, and yellow colors of bell peppers. This class of phytonutrients possesses antioxidant activity. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, preventing the highly reactive oxygen atoms from physically interacting and altering the structure of DNA, proteins, and other cellular structure, according to Oregon State University. Less cellular damage could help reduce the risk of cancer.
3. Bell peppers could help reduce the right to heart disease.
The antioxidant activity in bell peppers could help improve your heart. One culprit of an increased risk of heart disease is the bile acid binding activity. When the bile acid binding activity increases, that means bile acids are less likely to be recirculated as your body digests food, using cholesterol more efficiently and reducing the risk of heart disease.
4. Bell peppers could help prevent anemia.
Iron deficiency anemia is a common type of anemia where the blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells. Iron is an essential mineral that binds to oxygen in red blood cells via iron. That makes a diet rich in iron and compounds like vitamin C to increase the absorption of iron in the body. Bell peppers are an excellent source of iron and are loaded with vitamin C, which could help people decrease their risk of anemia. Yellow bell peppers have more vitamin C content compared to red bell peppers and green bell peppers, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
5. Bell peppers could help improve the health of prenatal babies.
Folic acid is an important vitamin to help the development of prenatal’ brains and nerves. Studies have shown that a deficiency in folic acid consumption from a pregnant woman could increase the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida. Bell peppers are an excellent source of folic acid.
6. Bell peppers could help decrease the risk of hypertension.
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a common, yet dangerous, a long-term condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is elevated continuously. This condition could put you at an increased risk for conditions like heart failure, chronic kidney disease, peripheral vascular disease, and dementia. According to the American Heart Association, a diet high in potassium and low in sodium can help decrease your risk of high blood pressure. Bell peppers, especially yellow and red bell peppers, are loaded with potassium.
7. Bell peppers could help make your skin look vibrant and healthy.
Bell peppers are packed with vitamin C, which is vital for your skin. Vitamin C stimulates collagen synthesis and helps your body protect against ultraviolet-induced light damage. Collagen is an abundant protein responsible for the firm structure of the skin. As the production of collagen declines, your skin becomes looser with more wrinkles and less elasticity.