Orange bell peppers are a cultivated variety of sweet pepper that turns bright orange when ripe. The orange color of the fruit is indicative of the presence of antioxidant carotenoids with vitamin A activity such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and beta-Cryptoxanthin. Orange bell peppers are a good source of nutrition, providing important amounts of vitamins A and C, B3 and B6, as well as the antioxidant mineral manganese and potassium. The variety holds benefits for eyesight and skin health and has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and immune system-boosting properties. The orange bell pepper is a low-glycemic food, good to eat for diabetes, as well as low in sodium which makes it good for high blood pressure too. Regular consumption helps relieve constipation, supports healthy weight loss and can help improve LDL and HDL cholesterol numbers.
Are orange bell peppers sweet peppers?
Yes, orange bell peppers are a variety of sweet peppers (botanical name: Capsicum annuum). The reason they are called sweet is not actually because they taste sweet, but because they aren’t spicy (peppers are graded according to spiciness, or lack thereof). Spicy peppers contain pungent capsaicinoid compounds such as capsaicin which makes them taste hot, spicy or pungent. Whereas sweet peppers like orange bells contain non-pungent capsaicinoid compounds, hence their lack of spiciness and the reason they are also called sweet. The term sweet is used to differentiate non-pungent varieties from pungent ones.
What do orange bell peppers look like?
The fruit has a shape reminiscent of a bell, hence the name. It is medium to large in size, blockish-looking, visibly segmented, with 3 to 4 lobes at the base, and hollow inside. The skin is thin, smooth, shiny, almost waxy-looking. The flesh is thick, meaty and crisp. Both the flesh and the skin are the same color: bright orange. The immature fruit is initially green in color, but turns bright orange when ripe. A fruit still ripening will be green with orange. The stem stays green. Inside, at the base of the stem, there is a white and orangey spongy pulp to which dozens of flat, tiny, creamy white seeds are attached. The entire fruit is edible: skin, flesh, spongy pulp and seeds.
What do orange bell peppers taste like?
Orange bell peppers are sweet-tasting, with pleasant, mild, non-pungent pepper flavors. Ideally, they should have a strong, peppery fragrance to them. The thick, meaty, crisp, succulent flesh is great eaten raw and cooked. This color variety is typically less sweet than the red bell pepper, but sweeter than green.
The nutrition of orange bell peppers is inferred from the available nutritional information of other bell pepper colors, the closest one nutrition-wise being the red bell. The orange bell pepper is presumed to contain all the essential vitamins and minerals of red bell peppers, in roughly the same amounts, and has about the same energetic value and macro-nutrient content (carbohydrates, sugar, dietary fiber, fat, protein). A serving of 100 g provides 25-30 kilocalories, 5-6 grams of carbs, of which 4 grams are sugars and 2 grams dietary fiber, but less than 1 g of protein and less than 0.5 grams of fat.
Vitamins in orange bell peppers
The variety contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, C, E and K and choline. Orange bell peppers are high in vitamin A, with a content rivaling that of red bells: 157 micrograms. Some of the antioxidant carotenoid compounds which are responsible for the bright orange color of the peppers (primarily beta-carotene, but also alpha-carotene, gamma-carotene) are converted into the vitamin A form called retinal, helping meet dietary requirements of the nutrient. Other bright orange and red and a few green and yellow-colored foods are also important sources of carotenoids with vitamin A activity, including carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, goji berries, mangoes, green leafy vegetables and red bell peppers.
Orange bell peppers are a good source of vitamin C, as are red and yellow bell peppers, with servings as small as 100 g meeting daily requirements of the vitamin. Like most other color variants, they are a particularly good source of vitamins B3 and B6, one 100 g serving providing roughly 5 to 10% of the daily recommended intake for the average adult. The variety contains small amounts of most other vitamins, usually less than 5% of daily recommended intakes.
Minerals in orange bell peppers
The variety is a source of dietary minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc. The orange bell is not high in minerals, but contains good amounts of potassium and manganese, roughly 5% of the recommended daily intake for an average adult per 100 g serving. But it’s extremely low in sodium, with barely detectable values, which makes it a good food to eat for anyone with high blood pressure.
What are the benefits?
- Eating orange bell peppers regularly provides important amounts of vitamin C which holds benefits for the immune system, including antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties.
- Antioxidant vitamin C, pro-vitamin A carotenoids, manganese, iron, copper and other polyphenols scavenge free radicals that cause cell damage, with extensive benefits for health.
- Anti-aging effects of vitamin C: stimulates collagen production which improves skin elasticity and reduces wrinkle appearance, and scavenges free radicals, preventing cell damage and premature aging.
- The range of B vitamins in the fruit prevents skin inflammation, reducing infection risks.
- Trace amounts of vitamin E help protect skin from oxidative stress and promote wound healing.
- Retinal vitamin A derived from orange carotenoid antioxidants protects the integrity of mucous membranes for an improved immune system response and holds benefits for skin and eyesight.
- Orange bell peppers are a low-glycemic food and thus good to eat with diabetes (glycemic index estimated between: 30-40).
- Combat tiredness and fatigue: generous amounts of vitamin C enhance absorption of iron from food for more vitality, while B vitamins elevate energy levels.
- Good food to eat for anemia thanks to vitamin C which increases iron absorption and vitamin B6 which helps synthesize heme, a component of hemoglobin in red blood cells.
- Good amounts of potassium and an almost undetectable sodium content make it a good food to eat for high blood pressure.
- Minor benefits for cholesterol: vitamin B3 helps both lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and raise HDL (good) cholesterol.
- Good food to eat for losing weight: low in calories, carbs, sugar and fat.
- Minor benefits for relieving constipation thanks to dietary fiber.
What are the side effects?
- Allergic reactions. While orange bell peppers do many good things for the body, they are best avoided if you allergic to peppers. Although not as common an allergen as soy, milk proteins or eggs, they can cause allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock.
- Indigestion. Eating too many orange bell peppers, or too often, can cause indigestion with symptoms such as bloating, excessive burping, burps that smell like pepper or taste acidic, heartburn, cramps or other forms of abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting sensation or loose stools.
- IBS. Even though they are ripe and technically easier to digest and better for IBS than green bell peppers, orange bells can still trigger symptoms of digestive discomfort if you have irritable bowel syndrome and should be avoided if you experience symptoms of intolerance.
- Acid reflux and heartburn. If you have acid reflux disease or GERD, then orange bells might be a bad food to eat for the condition. Peppers in general are known to cause digestive upset that lasts for hours after consumption, with symptoms such as bloating, excessive burping and regurgitation of stomach juices that leads to heartburn and a metallic or acidic taste in the mouth.
- Gastritis. Non-pungent peppers, whether orange or any other color, are a major trigger food for gastritis. Eating them can cause indigestion and stomach upset and flare up gastritis symptoms.