Sunday, November 22, 2009

Healthy food: Bell peppers

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Colorful Protection Against Free Radicals

Want to color your life healthy? Brightly colored bell peppers, whether green, red, orange or yellow, are rich sources of some of the best nutrients available. To start, peppers are excellent sources of vitamin C and vitamin A (through its concentration of carotenoids such as beta-carotene), two very powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants work together to effectively neutralize free radicals, which can travel through the body causing huge amounts of damage to cells. Free radicals are major players in the build up of cholesterol in the arteries that leads to atherosclerosis and heart disease, the nerve and blood vessel damage seen in diabetes, the cloudy lenses of cataracts, the joint pain and damage seen in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and the wheezing and airway tightening of asthma. By providing these two potent free radical destroyers, bell peppers may help prevent or reduce some of the symptoms of these conditions by shutting down the source of the problem.

Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

For atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, peppers also contain vitamin B6 and folic acid. These two B vitamins are very important for reducing high levels of homocysteine, a substance produced during the methylation cycle (an essential biochemical process in virtually every cell in the body). High homocysteine levels have been shown to cause damage to blood vessels and are associated with a greatly increased risk of heart attack and stroke. In addition to providing the vitamins that convert homocysteine into other beneficial molecules, bell peppers also provide fiber that can help lower high cholesterol levels, another risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

Promote Optimal Health

Red peppers are one of the few foods that contain lycopene, a carotenoid whose consumption has been inversely correlated with prostate cancer and cancers of the cervix, bladder and pancreas. Recent studies suggest that individuals whose diets are low in lycopene-rich foods are at greater risk for developing these types of cancers.

For people worried about colon cancer, the fiber found in peppers can help to reduce the amount of contact that colon cells have with cancer-causing toxins found in certain foods or produced by certain gut bacteria. In addition, consumption of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and folic acid, all found in bell peppers, is associated with a significantly reduced risk of colon cancer.
Consuming foods rich in beta-cryptoxanthin, an orange-red carotenoid found in highest amounts in red bell peppers, pumpkin, corn, papaya, tangerines, oranges and peaches, may significantly lower one's risk of developing lung cancer. A study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention reviewed dietary and lifestyle data collected from over 60,000 adults in Shanghai, China and found that those eating the most crytpoxanthin-rich foods showed a 27% reduction in lung cancer risk. When current smokers were evaluated, those who were also in the group consuming the most cryptoxanthin-rich foods were found to have a 37% lower risk of lung cancer compared to smokers who ate the least of these health-protective foods.

Promote Lung Health

If you or someone you love is a smoker, or if you are frequently exposed to secondhand smoke, then making vitamin A-rich foods, such as bell peppers, part of your healthy way of eating may save your life, suggests research conducted at Kansas State University.

While studying the relationship between vitamin A, lung inflammation, and emphysema, Richard Baybutt, associate professor of nutrition at Kansas State, made a surprising discovery: a common carcinogen in cigarette smoke, benzo(a)pyrene, induces vitamin A deficiency.

Baybutt's earlier research had shown that laboratory animals fed a vitamin A-deficient diet developed emphysema. His latest animal studies indicate that not only does the benzo(a)pyrene in cigarette smoke cause vitamin A deficiency, but that a diet rich in vitamin A can help counter this effect, thus greatly reducing emphysema.

Baybutt believes vitamin A's protective effects may help explain why some smokers do not develop emphysema. "There are a lot of people who live to be 90 years old and are smokers," he said. "Why? Probably because of their diet…The implications are that those who start smoking at an early age are more likely to become vitamin A deficient and develop complications associated with cancer and emphysema. And if they have a poor diet, forget it." If you or someone you love smokes, or if your work necessitates exposure to second hand smoke, protect yourself by making sure that at least one of the World's Healthiest Foods that are rich in vitamin A, such as bell peppers, is a daily part of your healthy way of eating.

Seeing Red May Mean Better Eyesight

Bell peppers appear to have a protective effect against cataracts, possibly due to their vitamin C and beta-carotene content. Italian researchers compared the diets of hospital patients who had cataracts removed with patients who had not undergone the operation. Certain vegetables, including sweet peppers, reduced the cataract operation risk. The red variety of bell peppers also supply the phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been found to protect against macular degeneration, the main cause of blindness in the elderly.

Protection against Rheumatoid Arthritis

While one study suggests that high doses of supplemental vitamin C makes osteoarthritis, a type of degenerative arthritis that occurs with aging, worse in laboratory animals, another indicates that vitamin C-rich foods, such as bell and chili peppers, provide humans with protection against inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis involving two or more joints.

The findings, presented in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases were drawn from a study of more than 20,000 subjects who kept diet diaries and were arthritis-free when the study began, and focused on subjects who developed inflammatory polyarthritis and subjects who remained arthritis-free during the follow-up period. Subjects who consumed the lowest amounts of vitamin C-rich foods were more than three times more likely to develop arthritis than those who consumed the highest amounts.

Green Pepper is a plump bell shaped vegetable that is used in salad, as ingredient to some dishes and is used as garnishing. Bell peppers has a sweet taste and it is not spicy. Green Pepper is a rich source of Vitamins C and A.

Nutritive Values of Green Bell Pepper : Per 100 gm.

* Vitamin A : 630 I.U.
* Vitamin B : Thiamine .04 mg.;
* Vitamin C : 120 mg.;
* Calcium : 11 mg.
* Phosphorus : 25 mg.
* Potassium : 170 gm.
* Carbohydrates : 5.7 gm.
* Protein : 1.2 gm.
* Calories : 25

Green Bell Pepper is beneficial in the following cases :

1. Liver disease
2. Obesity
3. Constipation
4. Arthritis
5. High blood pressure
6. Acidosis (deficiency of alkalinity in the blood)
7. May help prevent cancer in organ and glands lined by epithelial tissue due to its high Vitamin A content.
8. Smaller red pepper, known as hot peppers, have been found to be valuable for :Colds, Asthma, Inflamed sinus, Malaria, Destroying intestinal worms.

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