Bell Pepper (Capsicum): Health Benefits, Nutrients and Uses

Bell pepper is among the most consumed vegetables. It is easy to cook and is appreciated for its flavour. Although green bell pepper is the most commonly used variety, consumption of yellow and red types is also increasing. It appears that colour does affect specific nutritional properties and has different antioxidant content.

Humans have consumed bell pepper for more than seven thousand years. However, its consumption in the old world (Europe, Asia and Africa) is not old. It is native to the Americas. Thus, it was introduced to the world primarily by Spanish and Portuguese traders in the medieval ages after discovering the Americas.

In the old world and India, the term Chilly is used to describe pungent vegetable varieties. However, non-pungent types are called capsicum, or even more commonly “Shimla Mirch.”

Bell pepper is consumed in many ways. It may be cooked, eaten fresh, dried, added to sauces, and much more. Paprika is often used for food colouring. Its dry powder is often added to various spice blends and seasonings.

Bell pepper is also rich in bioactive compounds and antioxidants. Thus, researchers are also focusing on its health effects. They now realise the regular consumption of certain foods may help prevent and manage disease conditions. Using food as a medicine is a better approach to managing chronic ailments.

Excellent source of micronutrients

People realised a long time back that lack of fresh fruits and vegetables leads to poor health. Thus, early sailors developed scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) during lengthy journeys. Now, science knows that these health issues mainly occur due to micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) deficiency. Vegetables are low in calories. They are generally low in carbs, fats, and proteins. However, they often contain some critically essential micronutrients needed for optimal health. 

Studies show that bell pepper is packed with vitamin C, with a cup of bell pepper having vitamin C more than the daily recommended intake. It also has enough vitamin A. It is also rich in folate and vitamin B6. It may be low in fats, but it can also provide omega-3 fatty acids in small amounts.

Excellent source of antioxidants

Many people realise a predominantly vegetarian diet is associated with a reduced risk of specific disease conditions. This is because a higher intake of fruits and vegetables has an anti-inflammatory and protective effect on the body. It appears that it has much to do with a high content of antioxidants in vegetables like bell pepper.

Regular intake of foods high in antioxidants is particularly useful in preventing complications associated with chronic ailments, and it may also aid rehabilitation. Thus, antioxidants may help prevent diabetes-related complications, promote heart health, and even have a role in reducing cancer risk. Bell pepper is one of the richest vegetables in vitamin C. This is especially useful for boosting intracellular antioxidant capacity. It may also help prevent damage to DNA caused by free radicals.

Additionally, bell capsicum is also rich in other antioxidants that are not vitamins like phenolic acids. Bell pepper is also rich in carotenoids. Interestingly, studies show that if vitamin C is high in green bell pepper, then antioxidants like capsanthin are more abundant in red varieties. Thus, consuming bell peppers of various colours may have additional health benefits.

Reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Worsening of eyesight due to ageing is not a rare condition. In older adults, visual acuity declines irreversibly. It may be pretty significant in many older adults causing disability. AMD is the leading cause of age-related irreversible vision loss. It is estimated to affect about 4% of individuals aged 60-79 years of age and as many as 12% or more above the age of 80. 

Studies have shown that AMD may be prevented with the help of high dietary omega-3 fatty acids, carotenoids, and antioxidants. Since bell pepper is an excellent source of these micronutrients, it is suitable for eyesight. Therefore, regular consumption of bell pepper may help prevent age-related decline in vision.

Suitable for those living with diabetes

In India, diabetes is a significant health issue. However, it appears that the cause of diabetes in India may differ a bit from western nations, where it is primarily caused by obesity. On the contrary, in India, it may occur due to glucotoxicity, high consumption of starchy foods, and unhealthy oils. Thus, consuming more vegetables and antioxidant-rich foods may help prevent the condition.

One clinical study found that drinking bell pepper juice and doing yoga may help manage diabetes. Unfortunately, Bell pepper juice does not appear to lower blood glucose levels. However, it does help reduce post-prandial blood glucose and is suitable for vascular health.

Good for heart health

Bell peppers are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamin C, carotenoids, flavonoids, phenolic compounds. Thus, it may exert a cardioprotective effect. Additionally, studies found that bell pepper may help reduce systolic blood pressure and therefore have a beneficial impact on heart health.

Anaemia prevention

Bell pepper is not very rich in iron. However, it is an excellent source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is known to increase iron absorption from other foods and even health supplements. Thus, adding vitamin C to iron deficiency treatment can help manage the condition. Additionally, the vitamin may also help prevent iron overload caused by iron supplements and may exert a protective effect on liver cells.

Brain health

Bell pepper is good for brain health and may help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s. There are two possible ways in which it may help. Firstly, it may help maintain redox balance and thus reduce damage to the brain cells caused by toxins and free radicals. Secondly, new studies suggest that certain bioactive compounds may have a role in reducing the accumulation of amyloid plaques.

Conclusion

Vegetables are generally low in macronutrients, but they are rich in micronutrients and bioactive compounds. Thus, they can help prevent chronic ailments and manage diseases. In addition, their health benefits can be extended through proper cooking methods. For example, some health benefits may be more significant when veggies are consumed raw (as a salad) or as a juice.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Disclaimer
Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can further read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

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