Spice up your life: Creative ways to use peppers in your cooking

No doubt, peppers can bring spice to every dish, but they are also an amazing source of healthy substances.

Peppers contain different vitamins, mineral salts, proteins and antioxidants that are truly beneficial for overall health through diet.

In fact, peppers are known to have anti-cancer, anti-obesity, neuroprotective and diuretic properties, as well as helpful in improving bone health.

Aside from their health benefits, peppers can bring that added flavor to your everyday cooking.

They are widely available in different colors and shapes, such as green, red or yellow, and some are small and elongated, while other peppers are larger and square.

5 health benefits of eating peppers

1. Lowers the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration

When you age, your eye health degenerates and peppers are there to rescue you. 

Having a good diet directly contributes to the delay of age-related sight loss, particularly two carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin [1].

When the two carotenoids are eaten in sufficient amounts, it is found to be helpful in improving eye health. Lutein and zeaxanthin can protect your retina from oxidative damage. 

Moreover, peppers, especially the red ones, are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as other protective nutrients like vitamin C.

Many studies indicate that eating foods rich in carotenoids constantly, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin, may potentially lower your risk of both cataracts [2] and macular degeneration [3]. 

2. Reduces risk of anemia

Anemia is considered a common condition in women of reproductive age, which is the result of a lack of oxygen found in the blood and is normally caused by iron deficiency. 

Bell peppers contain iron and are remarkably rich in vitamin C; in fact, half a pepper usually provides 100mg. The nutritional content of bell peppers is promising, as vitamin C help increase the absorption of iron in the gut.

Many studies confirm that following a diet high in vitamin C, like fruits and vegetables, may result in greater iron uptake [4].

Bell peppers are beneficial because they have vitamin B6, which is required to produce hemoglobin (refers to the protein carrying oxygen around the body). 

Helps protect against some chronic diseases
Photograph: eddows_arunothai/Envato

3. Helps protect against some chronic diseases

Bell peppers contain antioxidants [5] that are linked to better health and protection against medical conditions such as heart disease [6] and cancer. 

Peppers are found to be rich in antioxidants, vitamins C, E and beta-carotene. They can also provide bountiful amounts of polyphenols, which are protective plant compounds. Polyphenols consist of lutein, quercetin and capsanthin, which is particularly rich in ripe red peppers. 

Moreover, as peppers are an antioxidant powerhouse, they can provide a strong anti-inflammatory function in the body, reducing your likelihood of developing different chronic diseases.

However, there is a lack of evidence from large-scale studies that specifically focus on bell pepper consumption on the incidence of chronic disease. 

4. Delays age-related memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease 

In animal studies, researchers have suggested interesting findings that consuming bell peppers may be useful in preventing memory loss in people with Alzheimer’s disease [7].

The explanation for the medical claim goes to the content of ripe peppers, as they are known to inhibit an enzyme that releases amyloid proteins.

The amyloid proteins are primarily responsible for accumulating around nerve fibers and adding to the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Following research studies indicate that it is possible the numerous plant compounds in peppers, such as phenols, carotenoids and flavonoids, are responsible for the findings [8].

5. Lowers blood sugar

Animal studies indicate that bell peppers can help in blood sugar management. However, more extensive human clinical trials are needed to fully accept the said health benefit.

Although, there is increasing evidence supporting that polyphenols, found in plants like peppers, have a beneficial impact on blood sugar and reduce the risk of developing diabetes [9]. 

How do cooking methods affect the antioxidant properties of peppers?

In a 2012 study, the researchers investigated the effects of various common cooking methods, such as boiling, steaming, stir-frying and roasting, and three cooking times, such as 5, 10 and 15 minutes, on the antioxidant content of red peppers. 

In the end, the findings showed that the proximate composition of ascorbic acid content, total carotenoid content, total polyphenol content and antioxidant activities were greatly affected by how the peppers are being cooked and that the loss rate is different among individual compounds. 

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Furthermore, boiling and steaming can greatly reduce the ascorbic acid content by 24.3-66.5%, total polyphenol content by 13.9~ 54.9% and antioxidant activity by 21.7~60.5% in red pepper. 

Meanwhile, stir-frying and roasting peppers can slightly reduce ascorbic acid content by 2.7~25.9%, total polyphenol content by 1.8~4.9% and antioxidant activity by 4.9~17.9%. 

Also, the highest loss of beneficial content in peppers was observed after boiling, followed by steaming, roasting and stir-frying.

Stir-frying and roasting are found to better preserve ascorbic acid content, total carotenoid content, total polyphenol content and antioxidant activity. 

Therefore, dry-heat cooking methods like stir-frying and roasting are recommended more when eating peppers, as these two cooking methods retain the most nutrient compositions and antioxidant properties of red pepper [10].

7 Ways to use peppers in your cooking

1. Roasting

Roasting is a healthy way to cook bell peppers, which is also scientifically backup by research.

This cooking method helps bring out the natural sweetness of bell peppers as well as it can make them more tender. 

Cooking step: 

  • In roasting bell peppers, you must preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Wash the bell peppers and carefully slice them into thin strips. 
  • From there, spread the bell pepper strips on your baking sheet and slowly drizzle them with olive oil. 
  • Roast the bell peppers for 20 to 30 minutes or stop the heat when they are fully tender and slightly charred. 

2. Stir-frying 

Stir-frying is another healthy way to cook bell peppers while still reaping their beneficial content. This cooking method is very quick and easy to do in cooking bell peppers. 

Cooking step: 

  • Start stir-frying your bell peppers by heating oil in a pan over medium-high heat. 
  • Add the peppers to the pan and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or stop the heat when they are slightly softened. 
  • Adding other vegetables like onions or carrots to the pan is also a good idea. 
stir frying

3. Air-frying 

Air-frying is a new cooking method that has changed the way many people prepare their food. It does not need any fatty oil when cooking, which is great for people who have certain medications. 

You can simply use an air fryer to prepare perfectly tender cooked peppers, even without heating up your stove or oven. 

Cooking step: 

  • Cut the bell peppers preferred shape, but preferably into strips or rings and toss with a couple of teaspoons of oil and seasonings of choice. 
  • Close the lid of the air-fryer and set the heat to 360°F for 10 to 15 minutes. 

4. Steaming

Steaming your bell peppers is another healthy and easy way to cook them. No oil is needed, and much more convenient if you have a busy schedule. 

Cooking step: 

  • Start by washing peppers and removing stems, seeds and membranes. 
  • Cut your peppers into preferred shapes, like rings or strips. 
  • In a steamer pan, cook peppers for 12 to 15 minutes or until they become crisp-tender.

5. Grilling 

Grilled bell peppers are perfect for outdoor activities and parties. You can easily cook bell peppers, whether as a whole or cut them and place them in a grill basket. 

Cooking step: 

  • Brush-washed and dry your whole peppers with olive oil.
  • When using a charcoal grill, place your peppers directly on the grill rack over medium coals. 
  • When using a gas grill, preheat the grill before placing the peppers. 
  • Grill the peppers for 25 to 30 minutes or until their skins are charred and they become tender. 

6. Using a microwave

Here’s a creative way to cook your peppers! This is much recommended for those on the go and who need a much faster cooking method. So, why not use your microwave? 

Cooking step: 

  • Cut your peppers into preferred shapes, like rings or strips. 
  • Place them in a casserole dish with two tablespoons of water. 
  • Microwave the peppers while covered on 100 percent power for 2 minutes (this is per cup of peppers) or until they become crisp-tender. 

7. Raw

Why not just eat your peppers raw? Eating raw peppers is by far the most nutritious way to enjoy this vegetable. Peppers can serve as an on-the-go snack! You can only simply just toss peppers into a light salad and slice them up, and dip them in hummus. 


Overall, peppers provide numerous health benefits, considering that they are an excellent source of vitamins C, E, and A, fiber and beta-carotene.

Additionally, bell peppers are rich in antioxidant properties that help protect you from developing various diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and age-related eye problems.

Moreover, peppers are a nutritious and easy-to-cooked ingredient in any meal. Roasting and stir-frying peppers are much-recommended cooking methods for preparing them to retain their nutritional content, but you can always explore other ways or just eat them raw. 

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[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26447482/ 
[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22005336/
[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7933422/ 
[4] https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/87/4/881/4633347 
[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15462130/ 
[6] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29922422/ 
[7] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25755673/ 
[8] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31608259/ 
[9] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29922422/ 
[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3866734/ 

Photograph: AtlasComposer/Envato
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