Grilled Red Bell Peppers

Whether raw, grilled or roasted, red bell peppers are an incredible low-calorie source of vitamin C.

One medium bell pepper has only 25 calories, while providing:

  • 190% of your daily vitamin C requirement
  • 2 g fiber
  • 4% of your daily vitamin A requirement
  • 4% of your daily iron requirement

But does nutritional content change when peppers hit the grill or roasting pan?

Peppers shrink as they cook, and vitamin C is heat-sensitive. Grilled peppers will therefore contain less vitamin C, but you’ll make up for it by consuming a larger, more concentrated portion of the veggie, explains registered dietitian Karen Collins, nutrition adviser for the American Institute for Cancer Research. Ultimately, regardless of preparation, a half-cup serving of red bell peppers provides a full day’s vitamin C requirement.

Conversely, vitamin A levels are higher when red peppers are roasted, Collins says. That’s because the cooking process leads to better absorption of beta-carotene.

But watch out for hidden calories and sodium in jarred roasted red peppers (or similar varieties found in supermarket or restaurant antipasto bars).

“When they are marinated in oil, of course, calorie content increases,” Collins says. “Sodium content also changes with preparation. Jarred roasted red peppers usually contain added salt, which increases sodium content markedly.

“However, you can broil or bake fresh red peppers in a hot oven (about 450°F) for 7 to 10 minutes; then put them in a bag to cool for about 15 minutes. You’ll have roasted red peppers with the near-zero sodium content of raw red peppers.”

How  to Choose an Organic Bell Pepper

  • Look for firm, brightly colored peppers with tight skins.
  • Peppers should be heavy for their size.
  • Avoid dull, shriveled or pitted peppers.

5 Roasted Red Pepper Recipes

  1. Tomato and Roasted Sweet Pepper Soup
  2. Grilled Fennel, Corn and Red Pepper Salad
  3. Skewered Grilled Organic Veggies
  4. Roasted Vegetable Medley
  5. Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Photo: Woodleywonderworks