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The Health Benefits of Bell Peppers

Karen Alexander, Licensed Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

April 8, 2016

The bell pepper is native to North and South America. Bell peppers are available all year, but are less expensive during the summer, when they are in season.

Bell peppers are high in vitamins C and K, and are a source of beta carotene, potassium, folic acid, fiber, and flavonoids. Flavonoids from peppers have antioxidant properties, which may prevent the development of common degenerative conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, cataracts, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. These chemical compounds also prevent damage to essential fats within the cells of the brain that are considered necessary for its optimal functioning, and reduce inflammation in some cases of arthritis and asthma.

Peppers are actually fruits. Like tomatoes, they are produced by a flowering plant and contain seeds. The color of peppers depends of ripeness. When green peppers mature, they become red and their flavor turns milder and sweeter. When red, peppers have significantly higher levels of nutrients, and they become a good source of lycopene, which may help to protect against prostate cancer as well as cancers of the bladder, cervix, and pancreas.

The pulpy white inner cavity of the bell pepper, which is usually cut off and discarded, is a rich source of flavonoids and can be eaten. Green bell peppers are usually less expensive, so when buying other colors of peppers, search for products on sale at your local market. For longer storage, store your unwashed peppers in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Peppers will stay fresh for about a week.
Combining bell peppers with a lean protein like chicken makes for a filling weekday dinner, with enough leftovers to pack for lunch the next day.

Roast Chicken with Bell Peppers

Ingredients

  • 4 6-oz. skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 5/8 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup thinly sliced yellow bell pepper
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, garlic powder, and oregano into a spice rub. Brush chicken with 1 1/2 teaspoons oil; sprinkle spice rub over chicken.
  3. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over; cook 1 minute.
  4. Arrange chicken in an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until done.
  5. Heat remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers, shallots, and rosemary or thyme; sauté 3 minutes.
  6. Stir in broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes.
  7. Increase heat to medium-high. Stir in vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve bell pepper mixture over chicken. Enjoy!
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