Bell peppers have been on sale lately. When any color but green is 99¢ or less, I buy them. Red peppers are more expensive than green ones because they’re, well, not green! Green peppers are red peppers that aren’t ripe yet. (I can think of very few foods we intentionally eat in a not-yet-ripe state!)
Suddenly the refrigerator has bags of peppers–red, yellow, and orange–tucked everywhere. As I understand it, yellow and orange peppers are cultivars. (Bell peppers can also be white or purple!) I’ve grown bell peppers, and seen them turn from green to red. The redder (riper) they are, the sweeter they are, especially when ripened on the plant.
I roasted half a dozen reds, peeled and jarred them. (I just discovered a bag of yellow and orange awaiting roasting!) This has inspired me to find new uses for roasted peppers. Of course, they’re delicious on sandwiches, but what about salads? Tomatoes are so prosaic!
Here’s a loose comparison of the nutrition of red peppers compared to tomatoes. I say ‘loose,’ because I’m using Internet results for raw peppers and raw tomatoes, without verifying the variety. I found roasted pepper information, but I didn’t know whether the canned/jarred varieties contained additives, such as oils. My home-roasted peppers don’t.
|Raw Food||Cal||Fiber||Vit A||Vit C||Pot||Lyc|
|1 c chopped tomatoes||32||2||1499 IU||23 mg||427 mg||4631|
|1 c chopped red peppers||46||3||4666 IU||190 mg||314 mg||459|
Though I added a column for the recently popular Lycopene (appearing in ketchup ads everywhere!), I think the numbers above cannot be correct. Lycopene is red (in all red or pink foods, even grapefruit). The redder the food, the more lycopene it has.
Thus, roasted red peppers have more lycopene than raw peppers, and more than raw tomatoes. In addition, lycopene is more bioavailable when cooked, so tomato sauce trumps raw tomatoes for this nutrient (though not for vitamin C–again, we’re back to variety, variety, variety).
If you have nutritional information on roasted red peppers, please post it below, especially if you know about its lycopene.
Meanwhile, sprinkle some diced roasted red peppers on your salad tonight and enjoy. (Add pine nuts and you’ll think you’re in heaven!)