According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, the consumption of bell peppers increased from an average of eight pounds per person in 2000 to 10 pounds in 2008. The increase signals a positive trend toward healthy eating, as green bell peppers are a great source of nutrients.
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Green peppers, along with the yellow, orange and red varieties, are members of the bell pepper family. Even though the culinary world considers them to be vegetables, bell peppers are actually fruits from the species Capsicum annuum.
According to the USDA, one medium-sized green pepper has 24 calories, 2 grams (g) of dietary fiber and 3 grams of sugar. It also contains 1 milligram of protein. Even though green peppers have all the amino acids, they are not all present in sufficient quantity and proportion to qualify as a complete protein.
Green peppers are an incredible source of vitamin C. One medium-sized green pepper has 95.7 milligrams of vitamin C, which is even more than the 63.5 milligrams found in a medium-sized orange. However, most of us are not going to eat an entire green pepper at once like we would an orange, so it’s better to look at the amount of vitamin C in more typical serving sizes. One “ring” of green pepper provides 8 milligrams of vitamin C and 10 green pepper strips contain 21.7 milligrams.
Green peppers are a good source of vitamin K and vitamin B6, with 10 strips providing about 3 percent of the daily value of each one. Ten strips also provide about 2.25 percent of the daily value of vitamin A. Other vitamins present in small amounts include vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate and pantothenic acid.
While green peppers contain a variety of minerals, they’re only present in trace amounts. The two most abundant minerals are potassium and manganese. Ten strips of green pepper will provide about 1.5 percent of the DV for potassium and 1.75 percent for manganese. The remaining minerals in green peppers are calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and copper.
You might be surprised to learn that green peppers also contain the healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. One medium green pepper has 64.3 milligrams of omega-6 fatty acids and 9.5 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids. Orange and red bell peppers have significantly higher amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, but a medium-sized green pepper provides 0.41 milligrams of these important antioxidants. You’ll also benefit from 10.7 milligrams of phytosterols, which help to lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol.
When researching nutrition information, be sure to pay attention to the portion size. The size of the medium green pepper tested by the USDA was 119 grams and their medium orange was 141 grams. The two weights are the closest match to be found in the available data. By comparison, 10 strips of green pepper represent 27 grams. It’s still fair to say that green peppers are a great source of vitamin C, but a more typical serving size will not give you nearly the daily value that the nutrient chart might indicate for a different portion.