Red Bell Pepper Nutrition Facts

red bell pepper nutrition facts and health benefits
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Bell peppers, also known as sweet peppers or Capsicum annuum, come in a variety of colors, including green, red, yellow, purple, orange, white, and even brown. They are heart-shaped and boxy with a short green stem and crisp flesh. Red bell peppers tend to be the sweetest of the bunch. While green varieties are typically available all year, red bell peppers are typically fresh during the summer and fall.

High in vitamin C and fiber, red bell peppers are not only tasty but may also reduce the risk of certain chronic or aging-related health conditions.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (149g) of chopped, raw, red bell pepper.

  • Calories: 46.2
  • Fat: 0.5g
  • Sodium: 6mg
  • Carbohydrates: 9g
  • Fiber: 3.1g
  • Sugars: 6.2g
  • Protein: 1.5g

Nutrition Benefits

Red bell pepper delivers a large volume of food with few calories, carbohydrates, or fat. It is an excellent source of dietary fiber, two-fifths of which is soluble (which slows digestion) and three-fifths of which is insoluble (which adds bulk to stools). 

The glycemic index of bell peppers has not been studied since they are presumed to have no effect on your blood sugar (due to their low carb content). The estimated glycemic load is only about 2 for a medium-sized pepper (compared to 70 for a slice of white bread).

Carbs in Red Bell Peppers

By subtracting fiber from total carbs, you will get net carbs of 6 grams per cup of chopped red bell pepper. The carb value is a little lower for green bell peppers at 5 grams net carbs. The non-fiber carbohydrates in red bell peppers are mostly glucose and fructose, both of which are sugars.

Fats in Red Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are very low in fat, the bulk of which is composed largely of "healthy"​ polyunsaturated fat. One cup of chopped red bell pepper delivers around 37 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids and 67 milligrams of omega-6 fatty acids.

Protein in Red Bell Peppers

As is typical for vegetables, bell peppers have only a small amount of protein. For a balanced diet, be sure to include a protein source such as legumes, nuts, dairy, meat, or fish in your diet.

Micronutrients in Red Bell Peppers

Red bell peppers are packed with nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin B6. Vitamin C, perhaps one of the best-known antioxidants, offers a variety of health benefits: boosting your immunity, facilitating cell repair, aiding in the absorption of iron and folate, and assisting in the production of collagen for healthy bones, skin, and hair.

Red bell peppers deliver other key antioxidants that help protect cells from oxidative damage. These include carotenoids such as lycopene, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

Bell peppers are also a good source of vitamin E, vitamin K, folate, potassium, and manganese. A large red bell pepper provides 1.3 milligrams of manganese, contributing 55 to 75 percent of your daily needs.

Health Benefits

Beyond their nutritional value, red bell peppers may play a protective role by preventing or slowing certain health conditions. Here is just some of what the current evidence suggests: 

Cancer

Chili peppers are believed to have the potential to inhibit tumor growth with certain types of cancer. These benefits have been attributed to an ingredient in chili known as capsaicin, which gives the pepper its spiciness and heat. Unfortunately, sweet peppers do not produce capsaicin, and, therefore, have not been studied as closely.

With that said, a number of researchers have looked closely at the association between cancer risk and the intake of carotenoid-rich foods like sweet bell peppers.

A 2014 study published in the journal Cancer Research suggested that more research be done to investigate the link between increased consumption of carotenoid-rich vegetables and fruits and a decreased risk of oral cancer, throat cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer (in non-smokers only). Red peppers may also contribute to a reduced risk of colon cancer.

Heart Disease

Red peppers also appear to reduce cardiovascular risk by exerting powerful antioxidant effects. The antioxidants in the sweet pepper directly temper the activity of free radicals that cause cellular damage. Free radicals are directly implicated in the development of many human ailments, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, neural disorders, diabetes, and arthritis.

Interestingly, according to a 2013 study in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, the free radical-fighting antioxidants in red bell peppers are activated at different temperatures:

  • At 35oC (95o F), the phenols and flavonoids in red peppers were able to disarm hydrogen peroxide free radicals linked to ischemic cardiovascular disease.
  • At 50o C (122o F), the same antioxidants were able to disarm DPPH (2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl) linked to certain types of cancer.
  • At 65o C (149o F), phenol and flavonoid concentrations were at their highest.

What this suggests is that raw bell peppers are heart-protective but that cooked bell peppers may exert stronger antioxidant effects.

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in the United States, affecting more than 10 million Americans. It occurs when the central portion of the retina, known as the macula, begins to deteriorate. The macula is mainly composed of a carotenoid, known as zeaxanthin, which is also found in oranges, tangerines, and vegetables like red peppers.

Some scientists believe that an increased intake of dietary zeaxanthin can help maintain the integrity of the macula. Zeaxanthin is a major component of orange bell peppers but is also found in high concentrations in red bell peppers. 

For its part, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends a daily 2-milligram zeaxanthin supplement for people with advanced macular degeneration. 

Other Health Benefits

Red bell peppers contain a decent amount of iron and nearly twice the recommended daily value of vitamin C. Because vitamin C facilitates the absorption of iron, it may help prevent iron deficiency anemia (by building the body's stores of iron) or aid in the recovery from mild anemia. 

The high manganese content in sweet peppers may also help prevent ​osteoporosis (bone loss) because trace elements like manganese, copper, and zinc are characteristically low in people with the disease. 

Common Questions

Below are answers to come questions about red bell peppers.

How many calories are in mini sweet peppers?

The calories will depend on your serving size, but generally speaking, three mini peppers contain about 25 calories, 0 grams fat, 5 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 1 gram sugar, and 1 gram protein. They can serve as a great snack or an addition to meals. Eat them as-is or slice them and add them to your eggs, salads, or sandwiches.

Can you eat the seeds of peppers?

You can eat the seeds, but most people cut away the seeds and the core before consuming because the texture and taste aren't usually appealing. Note that chili peppers get their heat from capsaicin, which is found in the ribs of the pepper. If you want to reduce the heat of a pepper carefully remove the ribs and the seeds.

Do red peppers give you gas?

Flatulence is commonly more associated with green peppers rather than red peppers. 

What are the differences between red and other bell peppers?

Bell peppers of all colors are, scientifically-speaking, the same plant. Their color is determined by how long they stay on the vine, with green first, followed by yellow, orange, red, purple, or brown. Interestingly, the longer the vegetable stays on the vine, the higher the nutrient content. This means red peppers contain the most nutrients, making them the healthiest choice among bell peppers.

Recipes and Preparation Tips

Red bell peppers can be stuffed with beans and whole grains, baked, grilled, sauteed, pureed for soups and dips or used in chilis, stews, sauces, and condiments. They can also be eaten raw and put on sandwiches, wraps, in salads, or used as a crunch vehicle for dips.

Choose fresh peppers that are brightly colored and plump with smooth, unblemished skin. The more intense the color, the better. The vividness of color is an indicator of ripeness, flavor, and a high concentration of nutrients. Avoid peppers that have soft spots, nicks, wrinkles, or pits. You'll also want to look for a bright green stem, which indicates freshness.

Store peppers whole in the refrigerator. They should last for about a week this way. Once washed and cut they will begin to deteriorate more rapidly and should be used within a few days. You can freeze them whole or cut them up and put them in an airtight container.

Peppers can also be purchased frozen, roasted in cans, or dried and ground (as in paprika). Note that roasted red peppers can often have a large amount of sodium and fat (if stored in oil).

Allergies and Interactions

Bell pepper food allergies are rare. However, if you are allergic to latex you may have the latex-fruit syndrome and cross-react to proteins in bell peppers that are similar to those in latex. You might feel a tingling or itch in your mouth after eating bell peppers.

In rare cases, this can be more serious and trigger throat swelling or anaphylaxis. People with this syndrome may also be sensitive to avocado, banana, chestnut, fig, and kiwi.

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Article Sources

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