The pigment that makes red, yellow and orange bell peppers so colorful also contains health-giving properties. These vividly colored vegetables are named for their bell-like shape, and are low in fat and calories, high in water content and cholesterol-free. Green bell peppers turn red when they fully ripen, according to Cornell University; orange and yellow peppers are a different variety. Adding an assortment of these colorful peppers to your meals provides your body with important health benefits.
Bell peppers are rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps protect your body from free radicals -- substances that damage cells. Free radical build-up in your body can add to the development of disease and contribute to the aging process. Vitamin C also plays a vital role in controlling infections, healing, making skin and developing collagen, a tissue needed for maintaining healthy bones, teeth, gums and blood vessels.
Red, orange and yellow bell peppers are good sources of carotenoids, which are the pigments that give bell peppers their bright hue. Your body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, or retinol, which is vital for good vision, a strong immune system and healthy skin. Beta-carotene also contains powerful antioxidant properties that reduce the risk of cancer and heart problems. According to University of Maryland Medical Center, eating four or more daily servings of vegetables rich in beta-carotene may help prevent heart disease or cancer.
Lycopene, a pigment that's responsible for the color in vibrant red bell peppers, also acts as a powerful antioxidant, helping to guard your cells against harm from oxidative stress. Research results suggest that eating foods rich in lycopene is associated with prevention of prostate cancer and heart disease. Lightly cook red bell peppers in olive or canola oil because the pepper releases more lycopene when cooked.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Your eyes contain concentrated amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, substances vital to eye health. These carotenoids, typically found in vegetables and fruits, help protect the area near the center of your eye's retina -- the macula -- from light-induced damage. Lutein and zeaxanthin are thought to limit the risk of age-related macular degeneration by dyeing the macula yellow, thus causing it to act like natural sunglasses for your eyes.
Dietary fiber is found in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. While your body can digest and absorb carbohydrate, protein and fat, it's unable to break down fiber. This plant bulk pushes food through your system, which helps prevent constipation. Fiber also aids in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing inflammation and promoting slow absorption of sugar, which maintains stable blood sugar levels.
- Cornell University: Department of Horticulture: Peppers
- Michigan State University: Health 4 U: Red Bell Peppers
- Auburn University: Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station: Highlights of Agricultural Research: Ringing a Bell With Consumers: Consumer Preferences Studied for Bell Pepper Selection
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Beta-Carotene
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
- Iowa State University Extension: Food of the Week: Bell Pepper
- Mayo Clinic: Health Information: Nutrition and Eating Healthy: Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet
- NYU: Langone Medical Center: Macular Degeneration
- University of California: UCDavis: Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources: Peppers
- University of Florida, Sarasota County Extension: Peppers
Karen Curinga has been writing published articles since 2003 and is the author of multiple books. Her articles have appeared in "UTHeath," "Catalyst" and more. Curinga is a freelance writer and certified coach/consultant who has worked with hundreds of clients. She received a Bachelor of Science in psychology.