Bell peppers aka capsicum which is also called pilipili hoho and sweet pepper in Kenya adds colour to food, and especially if you choose to mix them up. Whether green or red or yellow, bell peppers have a lot of nutritional benefits. They belong to the nightshade family, a term coined because some of these plants prefer to grow in shady areas, and some flower at night.
All bell peppers start off as green in colour and then change colour as they mature. If it’s not picked, a green pepper may become yellow, orange, or red. Since they were less ripe when picked, green peppers have longer shelf lives but are less nutrient-dense than peppers that have matured to another colour.
An interesting fact about bell peppers is that they are actually considered fruits, not vegetables because they have seeds and come from flowering plants. Peppers have a lot going for them. They are low in calories and are loaded with good nutrition. Let’s take a look at some of the other nutritional benefits of bell peppers.
- Eye health
The problem of poor eye health is an issue not only in Kenya but all over the world. The most common types of visual impairments include macular degeneration and cataracts, the main causes of which are ageing and infections. What remains a fact, is that good eye health starts with the food on your plate. Lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids found in relatively high amounts in bell peppers, may improve eye health when consumed in adequate amounts. Health: 7 Ways To Care For Your Eyes
- Balances mood
If you are feeling low or sad, you might want to turn to your diet, and consuming bell peppers is one way of improving your mood. Naturally occurring in bell peppers, Vitamin B6 helps your brain produce serotonin and norepinephrine, two chemicals that affect your mood. It does this by creating neurotransmitters that regulate emotions. So rather than turning to unhealthy comfort food, Vitamin B6 can help to regulate your mood.
- Weight loss
Many of us suffer from weight loss issues, which can also weigh down our self-esteem. If you are part of this category, then bell peppers may help to turn your situation around. They can fill out any dish without adding the calories and have a small amount of fat-burning capsaicin in them. Bell peppers contain capsaicin which has been shown to boost metabolism as well as suppress appetite, at least slightly. Over time, this effect might give you an extra edge when it comes to weight loss.
- Healthy heart
Cardiovascular diseases are linked to poor lifestyle and dietary choices. In fact, the number of gene-related factors for heart disease is only about 5% or less with the burden of activating that risk placed on lifestyle and personal choices.
The good news? Bell peppers improve your heart health. Red bell peppers are a particularly good choice for heart health as they are full of lycopene, which is not found in green peppers. The anti-inflammatory properties of bell pepper also lower inflammation in arteries. That means that bell peppers help prevent heart disease and diabetes.
- Prevents anaemia
Anaemia is a condition in which you lack enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your body’s tissues. One of the most common causes of anaemia is iron deficiency, the main symptoms of which are weakness and tiredness. The good news? Red bell peppers are a decent source of iron. They are also exceptionally rich in vitamin C, which increases the absorption of iron from your gut.
- Healthy digestive system
Bell peppers contain great amounts of fibre, which is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and bowel cancer. Fibre also makes us feel fuller, while a diet rich in fibre can help digestion and prevent constipation. A diet high in fibre may also reduce the likelihood of haemorrhoids. For bell peppers, despite only having 30 calories in every one-cup serving, raw bell peppers contain 2.5 grams of dietary fibre. Lifestyle: 6 Ways To Improve Your Gut Health