Did you ever wonder why bell peppers come in different colors? Or if there is any nutritional difference between the various colored peppers?
All fruits and vegetables derive their color from a variety of phytochemicals (plant chemicals). According to Robert L. Wolke in his book, “What Einstein Told His Cook 2”, plant colors can be classified into three main groups; the chlorophylls, carotenoids, and flavonoids (including anthocyanins and anthooxanthins).
Chlorophylls are green compounds containing magnesium. When a green vegetable is overcooked, that pretty green goes away, turning into olive green.
Carotenoids range in color from yellow to orange to red. Beta carotene is the substance used by the body to make vitamin A.
Anthocyanins are water-soluble pigments that are responsible for the blue, purple and dark red colors in plant tissue.
So what does that have to do with colored bell peppers? For one thing, you can find almost any color of bell peppers, such as red, orange, yellow, purple and brown, and of course, green. The nice variety of colors can make a dish attractive (such as using many colors of pepper, sautéed for fajitas, or adding chopped colored peppers to potatoes, omelets or salads).
Trivia: Did you know a red bell pepper is actually a green pepper that has been ripened longer on the plant? Compared to a green pepper, a red pepper is a lot sweeter with very little bitterness.
Nutrition-wise, green peppers contain about 60 milligrams of vitamin C per pepper, while the red have 94 milligrams and yellow have 112 milligrams vitamin C. As you may suspect from the color, the red peppers are the beta carotene winner, giving it about 116 r.e. of vitamin A, while the green and yellow pepper have 10 or less.
All the bell peppers run about 15 to 20 calories per pepper, and are considered a “free food” on many weight loss plans and for the diabetes meal plan.