If you started counting carbs during the low-carb diet craze, you were probably surprised to find that almost every food contains the culprit. But while carbohydrates are often touted as the bad guys in an otherwise healthy diet, a small amount of carbs is actually necessary to fuel your body and maintain your always-dwindling energy level. So think twice before you ditch that green pepper because of its carb content -- it just might help power your day.
Before you can qualify any food as “high” or “low” in carbohydrates, you need to know your nutrition numbers. The Food and Nutrition Board recommends that all adults consume 130 grams of carbohydrates per day. However, pregnant and lactating women need more carbs to keep up with their increased energy needs. During pregnancy, aim for a daily carbohydrate intake of 175 grams. While lactating, increase your intake even further to 210 grams per day.
Sweet Green Peppers
Green bell peppers have a subtle green flavor that makes them surprisingly versatile. They can be diced and added to eggs, stir-fry, pasta and pizza or sliced into strips for fajitas and sandwiches. They also make a perfectly healthy alternative to greasy chips when you just can’t pass up the creamy dips. One large, sweet green pepper has about 7 to 8 grams of carbohydrates. With a recommended daily intake of 130 grams, the whole pepper provides only around 5 percent of your daily intake -- which would certainly qualify as a low-carb choice. Sweet green peppers are also low in calories, with just 30 in a large pepper. They provide a healthy dose of potassium, calcium and vitamin C.
Hot Green Chili Peppers
If you have an insatiable appetite for spicy foods, hot green chili peppers probably top your grocery list. And while too many of the spicy peppers might irritate your tummy, they won’t expand your waistline. A whole green chili pepper has just 18 calories and around 4 grams of carbs. They are also an excellent source of potassium and vitamin C. Since they have such a low carb content, you don’t have to fret about adding them to your diet -- even if you can’t eat just one.
The spicy jalapeno pepper gets the gold medal for boasting the lowest carb count in the green pepper competition. One pepper has just 1 gram of carbohydrate and 4 calories. And even though the spicy jalapenos are much smaller than chili or bell peppers, their powerful flavor makes up for their size -- so you probably only need to enjoy one jalapeno at a time. But even if you do get crazy and toss four jalapeno peppers into your dish, you’re still getting fewer carbs than you would get in one slice of wheat bread -- which typically has 12 to 14 grams per slice.
Krista Sheehan is a registered nurse and professional writer. She works in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and her previous nursing experience includes geriatrics, pulmonary disorders and home health care. Her professional writing works focus mainly on the subjects of physical health, fitness, nutrition and positive lifestyle changes.