Bell peppers or widely known as capsicums (Shimla mirch in Hindi) add vivid colors to your plate and a sweet, tangy flavor to your palate. All bell peppers come from the same plant and the difference in the colors is due to the difference in the duration of their ripening. The green bell pepper is unripe and hence slightly bitter in taste whereas the red, orange and yellow bell peppers are ripened and hence are sweeter and juicier. They are loaded with Vitamin C, Vitamin E , Vitamin A , phosphorous , manganese, magnesium, folate, carotenoids and fiber.
Besides adding color and visual appeal to your dish, here are some surprising health benefits of bell peppers:
1 . Help In Weight Loss
Being low on calories (37 Kcal in a medium sized pepper), they can be an exemplary addition to your plate if you are trying to lose weight. Moreover, they have 92% water content and are high on fiber content also. So, add these to your salads and enjoy the distinct flavors.
2 . Regulate Blood Sugar
The red and yellow capsicums have shown to be effective in slowing down the digestion of carbohydrates and lipids thus reducing glucose concentration in the blood and preventing the sugar levels to shoot up. For evident results, it is suggested to consume these before your meals as salads.
3 . Delay Ageing
Packed with vitamins and carotenoids, bell peppers are known for their antioxidant properties which protect you from ageing and various diseases caused by the cell damaging free radicals.
4 . Prevent Eye Diseases
Carotenoids (lutein and zaxanthin) found in bell peppers protect your eyes from oxygen related damage. Routine consumption of capsicum has been reported to prevent age related macular degeneration (an eye disease which causes damaged vision or total loss of vision). It has also been popular in the prevention of cataracts.
5. Fight Cancer
Along with its strong antioxidant benefits, the constituents of bell peppers also have anti inflammatory properties that account for prevention of excessive inflammation and reduce the risk of cancer development and progression.
6 . Prevent Anemia
Not only are bell peppers rich in iron, they also contain exceptional amount of Vitamin C which greatly enhances the absorption of iron in your body.
7. Improve Skin Health
Being rich in vitamin E and vitamin C, bell peppers can do wonders to your skin and hair. Add them to your diet for glowing skin and lustrous hair.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT BELL PEPPERS?
Summers bring with them these colorful peppers that add liveliness to your bowl of food. Always go for bell peppers that are bright in color and firm, free from any discoloration. Choose the ones that are heavier with fresh green stems. Refrigerated bell peppers last their freshness for 5- 7 days but make sure their stems are intact to prevent any moisture loss.
HEALTHY WAYS TO HAVE BELL PEPPERS
Here are some healthy and fun ways to add bell peppers to your diet:
Sauté the peppers very lightly so that they do not lose their crunchiness and add to your salad plate for exceptional flavors and a splash of colors.
-Stuffed Baked Capsicums
A very popularly cooked dish in the Indian households also known as Bharwan shimla mirch. Remove the stem from the top of a green capsicum to get a round mouthed hollow capsicum. Stuff this with a mixture of paneer / potatoes, ginger, cashews, raisins and spices according to your preference. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees for 20 to 30 mins till it becomes slightly golden and wrinkled. Garnish it with coriander and mint leaves and eat hot.
Finely slice green, yellow and red capsicum, onions and mix with diced cottage cheese. Make a chapatti and spread some mint chutney over it with a knife. Add salt and pepper to the mixture of capsicums, onions, cottage cheese and roll this mixture inside the chapatti. These rolls will be an excellent balance of nutrients, fiber, protein, carbohydrates and will keep you full for long. Pack and carry them along for a healthy breakfast option on the go.
Some people may have allergic reactions to bell peppers especially if consumed in very large amounts but otherwise they have bountiful nutritional and health benefits and can add freshness to the most mundane preparations. So, next time you go vegetable shopping; don’t forget to add these colorful veggies to your basket! Stay healthy, Stay Happy!