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Flaxseed, Frozen Yogurt, and Red Bell Peppers: Your Nutrition Questions Answered

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Red Bell Peppers

I've heard that red bell peppers are more nutritious than orange, green, or yellow peppers. True?

Fact: Different colored peppers are the result of when the pepper is harvested. "Red bell peppers are fully ripened green bell peppers. Green bell peppers are unripe and immature. Other colors of peppers, such as orange, yellow, and purple, are different cultivars of the bell pepper and reach their appropriate color upon ripeness," says VanBeber, adding that the peppers become sweeter as they ripen. Also, as an interesting side note, all bell peppers contain a recessive gene that inhibits the concentration of capsaicin, which is found in chili peppers. As a result, they are not spicy.

Most research regarding the nutritional value of sweet bell peppers has been conducted using red and green bell peppers. Red bell peppers are one of the best sources of beta-carotene, the form of vitamin A found in plants. And red bell peppers also contain approximately 11 times the beta-carotene of green bell peppers. In addition, they are an excellent source of the phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin, which are known to protect against macular degeneration. Bell peppers of all colors are also a good source of B6, fiber, folate, potassium, and many other vitamins and minerals. And they contain the phytochemical lycopene, which has been shown to reduce the risk for certain cancers. One cup of raw chopped sweet bell pepper contains approximately 25 calories.

While red bell peppers have three to four times the vitamin C content of citrus fruits, green, yellow, and orange bell peppers are also higher in vitamin C than citrus fruits.

Also, "A 2007 study published in the Journal of Food Science compared the antioxidant activity in all four colors and found that the content of antioxidant phenolic compounds was greatest in red bell peppers, followed by orange, yellow, and green," says VanBeber.

Fiction: That bell peppers of a particular color are more nutritious than those of other colors.

Concerns: Placing the emphasis on one specific vegetable (or one color vegetable) makes it seem as if other vegetables are not nutritious. All fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals (health-promoting properties of plants such as antioxidants). Always eating the same fruit or vegetable causes you to miss out on all the nutrients in other fruits and vegetables. Each color group provides different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, so it's important to choose fruits and vegetables from all the color groups: red, orange/yellow, green, blue/purple, and white, says Greebel.

Research indicates that bell peppers of all colors are among the top 10 vegetables for containing pesticide residue when grown conventionally. "It is recommended that when buying bell peppers, individuals look for organically grown varieties," says VanBeber.

Bottom Line: All colors of sweet bell peppers provide good nutrition in the form of vitamins A, C, and B6. They are also good nutritional sources of fiber, folate, molybdenum, and magnesium, says VanBeber. However, red bell peppers pack more vitamin A (beta-carotene) than do the other colors, and they are also sweeter.

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2/2/2012 02:41:35 AM Report Abuse

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