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Bell peppers, also called sweet peppers, were not widely grown in the United States until the mid-20th century. Today, they are a common ingredient in salads and cooked dishes, with more than 200 varieties cultivated. When a pepper develops, it is initially green, but left to ripen, it becomes red, yellow, orange and even purple. Green peppers are not as sweet as their more mature counterparts. They are high in antioxidants, offering a host of nutritional benefits.
Cooked or raw, a green bell pepper is an efficient way to add flavor and texture to your food without an abundance of calories. A large raw green pepper provides 3 grams of fiber and 1.5 grams of protein with only 33 calories. Although cooking depletes it of some of its water-soluble nutrients, a cup of cooked green bell pepper, with 38 calories, provides 100 milligrams of vitamin C. If you prefer to eat peppers cooked, you still get plenty of nutrients from them.
Immune System Benefits
Each chopped green pepper gives you 132 milligrams of vitamin C, far surpassing the recommended daily intake of 90 milligrams for men and 75 milligrams for women. It also provides more than one-fourth of the vitamin B-6 you need each day. While vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, preventing free radicals from damaging your cells and causing illness, vitamin B-6 helps your body make antibodies that fight disease.
A 100-gram serving of green bell peppers has nearly 5 milligrams of luteolin, an antioxidant flavonoid that exhibits anti-inflammatory properties. Luteolin may inhibit the growth of some types of cancer cells, according to a 2012 Science Daily article. A group of Korean researchers found that luteolin displayed anti-cancer activity against colon cancer cells in laboratory studies. The researchers concluded that this flavonoid may eventually be useful in treatments for colon cancer.
If you have skin problems or inflammation due to a chronic medical condition, flavonoids in green bell peppers may help alleviate your symptoms. A 100-gram serving of green pepper contains 2 milligrams of quercetin, a flavonoid with powerful antioxidant capabilities. After a series of tests, authors of a 2012 "PLOS One" journal article concluded that quercetin is more effective than conventional medications for treating contact dermatitis and skin photosensitivity, and they concluded that the flavonoid may be useful as part of a treatment program for allergies and inflammatory diseases.