Red bell peppers are versatile ingredients that appear in many recipes, including fajitas, soups, salads and stews. They are part of the vegetable food group, which means that they contain carbohydrates. Red bell peppers are in season in the summer, but they are usually available year-round at many supermarkets. Choose firm, unblemished peppers and store them in the refrigerator for up to a week.
The size of a red bell pepper determines its carbohydrate content. A large bell pepper, which is about 3 inches by 3 inches, contains nearly 10 grams of carbohydrates. A medium red pepper is roughly 2 3/4 inches by 2 1/2 inches, and it has about 7 grams of carbs. A small pepper (smaller than 2 inches by 2 inches) contains about 4.5 grams of carbohydrates. The various methods of cutting red peppers may affect their carbohydrate content. For example, a cup of chopped red bell peppers contains almost 9 grams of carbohydrates, but a cup of sliced red bell peppers has about 5.5 grams. Cooking red bell peppers does not significantly change their carbohydrate count, although it may reduce the amount of other vitamins and minerals.
Carbohydrates are your body's main source of energy. They work by making glucose that can be used immediately or stored in your muscles and liver for later use. There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are the type found in sugary junk foods, such as candy and soda, but they are also found naturally in fruits and vegetables. Complex carbohydrates are those that contain starch and are digested slowly. They provide longer-lasting energy and often contain additional nutrients, such as fiber. Many fruits and vegetables contain complex carbohydrates.
Carbohydrate Intake Recommendations
Roughly 45 to 65 percent of your daily calorie intake should come from carbohydrates, which equates to 225 to 325 grams per day in a 2,000-calorie diet. The Mayo Clinic recommends emphasizing fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes and whole-grain sources of carbohydrates, making red bell peppers a healthy addition to a well-balanced diet.
Many people cut carbohydrates for weight loss, but this practice may not be healthy for everyone. Most low-carb diets allow 50 to 150 grams of carbohydrates per day and focus on non-starchy vegetables, making red bell peppers a good addition to this type of meal plan. However, severely restricting your carbohydrate intake may lower your energy and reduce your nutrient intake, setting you up for health complications that are associated with deficiencies. Always talk with your doctor before you change your diet.