Pick a Pepper for Nutrition

Whether eaten raw with your favorite dip, jarred and pickled, or cooked up as part of a savory dinner entrée, peppers deserve a place at your table. By far, the most popular variety of pepper eaten in the U.S. is the bell pepper. Here's a guide to the differences between these bell peppers:

Green Peppers

The least expensive of the bell peppers and the least sweet, this pepper is picked before achieving full ripeness. (Left to ripen, it will turn red, orange, purple, or other colors.) Green peppers have a slightly bitter flavor that shouldn't deter you from using them in your favorite recipes. Half a cup of green pepper provides you with 60 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.

How to prepare them:

  • Italian-style, with sausage
  • Cooked in a flavorful tomato sauce

Orange or Yellow Peppers

These peppers are riper than green peppers, and sweeter as well. These may be harder to find in stores than green peppers, and they're certain to be more expensive. Orange and yellow peppers have a delicate flavor, and their gorgeous colors brighten up any table.

How to prepare them:

  • Diced as a stunning topping for a bed of greens
  • Served with your favorite dressing
  • Sliced up and set out with delicious dip

Red Peppers

These peppers are more mature than green, orange, or yellow peppers. Their ripeness translates not only into a sweeter flavor but a higher nutrient content as well. In fact, red peppers have almost eleven times more beta-carotene than green peppers. Red pepper is also the source of paprika.

How to prepare them:

  • Stuffed with a tangy meat or vegetarian filling
  • Tops cut off and seeds and membranes scooped out inside to fill with ground meat or lentils and spices
  • Cook until the peppers are soft

Chili Peppers

In addition to sweet bell peppers, chili peppers can be a valuable part of your diet. Known mostly as additions to foreign cuisines such as Thai, Indian, and Mexican, chili peppers can be anywhere from mild to excruciatingly hot and are typically used to add flavor to dishes instead of being eaten whole. Chemical compounds called capsaicinoids are responsible for the burning sensation you experience when you eat chili peppers or foods that are flavored with them. In addition to the vitamins and minerals in chili peppers, some experts believe that capsaicinoids are highly potent disease fighters.




University of Illinois Extension

George Mateljian Foundation

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention