Red peppers have a sweet taste that's just as flavorful served raw or cooked, and make a nutritious addition to your diet. They boost your vegetable intake, and count towards the weekly 5.5 to 6 cups of orange and red vegetables the USDA dietary guidelines recommend each week. Though they're low in calories, at 46 calories per cup, red peppers come packed with nutritional value and provide carbohydrates and vitamins that support your health.
Carbs and Fiber
Most of red peppers' calorie content -- approximately three-quarters -- comes from carbohydrates, a type of nutrient that supports your day to day activities. Your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, a simple sugar your body can use for fuel. This energy supports essential physiological processes -- including body temperature regulation and brain cell function. A cup of red peppers also contains 3.1 grams of dietary fiber, a special type of carbohydrate that doesn't get used for energy. Instead, fiber supports your digestive system, and also helps lower your cholesterol to fight cardiovascular disease. One serving of chopped red pepper provides 8 percent of the recommended daily fiber intake for men and 12 percent for women.
Vitamin C and Folate
Red peppers come packed with folate and vitamin C -- two nutrients that support cardiovascular health. Vitamin C helps your body make collagen it needs to keep blood vessels strong. Folate helps you metabolize homocysteine, an amino acid that increases the risk of heart disease when found at high levels in the bloodstream. Each cup of chopped red pepper provides 69 micrograms of folate and 190 milligrams of vitamin C. This contributes 17 percent toward your daily recommended folate intake, and provides your entire daily vitamin C requirement.
Vitamins A and E
Red peppers' nutritional profile also includes ample amounts of vitamins A and E. Each serving contains 2.4 milligrams of vitamin E --16 percent of your recommended daily intake -- and all the vitamin A you need in a day. Getting enough vitamin A protects your vision -- not only does it help you see at night, but the vitamin A in your diet lowers your risk of cataracts. Vitamin E also protects tissue health. Its antioxidant function means it neutralizes free radicals, which would otherwise contribute to heart disease and cancer.
Serving Tips and Suggestions
Store sliced red peppers in the fridge, submerged in water, so that you can reach for them as a healthful snack throughout the week. They pair well with healthful dips such as homemade salsas, hummus or guacamole. Alternatively, add a handful of sliced red peppers to your sandwiches and wraps, or grill them, along with other vegetables, as a nutritious side dish. If you're feeling more adventurous, roast red peppers in your oven or on your barbecue. Roasted red peppers freeze well for later use, and make tasty additions to soups, sandwiches and quesadillas.
- How Many Vegetables are Needed Daily or Weekly?
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Peppers, Red, Sweet, Raw
- Oklahoma State University: Carbohydrates in the Diet
- Colorado State University: Dietary Fiber
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B-9 (Folic Acid)
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin A (Retinol)
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin E