Food Focus: Red Peppers

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Did You Know?

In Central and South America 40g a day of peppers are eaten, research in Mexico has even found that daily pepper extract may halt cancer cell formation.

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All members of the capsicum family like red pepper, chilli and paprika have fantastic health benefits, especially for the heart and skin – peppers are the easiest way to get more of these nutrients.

Red peppers colour comes from the antioxidant carotenoid lycopene, just one of the nutrients that distinguishes them from green peppers. They also have twice the vitamin C and around nine times the carotene as their green counterpart. As part of the Mediterranean diet, red peppers contribute to a recipe for heart health, with high levels of these antioxidants keeping arteries intact and protecting cholesterol from damage. Vitamin B6 and folate help to reduce levels of harmful homocysteine, a substance we naturally produce but high levels are linked to heart disease and dementia. Peppers are members of the nightshade family, with potatoes, aubergines and tomatoes, which may exacerbate arthritic symptoms and other inflammatory conditions that we are more prone to as we age.

  • Fat-soluble carotenoids need oil to carry them into the body, so eating red peppers with olive in the Mediterranean way is both doubling their health value and optimising their absorption.
  • Vitamin C and vitamin B6 are needed to make stomach acid, vital for breaking down food for digestion and killing off harmful bacteria before it reaches the intestine.
Practical Tip

Skin should be smooth, firm and wrinkle-free, feeling weighty and with a healthy green stem. Avoid those with indents or black spots. Store them unwashed in a plastic bag in the fridge to stay fresh for up to a week.

MAJOR NUTRIENTS PER 3.5OZ/ 100G RAW RED PEPPERS
KCalories20 kcal
Total fat0.17 g
Protein0.86 g
Carbohydrate4.64 g
Fibre1.7 g
Vitamin C80.4 mg
Vitamin B60.23 mg
Folate10 mcg

 

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