Nutrition Spotlight with our Registered Dietitian, Mary Lou Block

Nutrition Spotlight with our Registered Dietitian, Mary Lou Block


7/25/18: Peppers

One of the most beautiful vegetables to add to any recipe or salad is a pepper.  Summer gardens and farmer’s markets are about to burst with large quantities of these fruits.   Known for their rainbow of colors and crunch, these perky gems come from the Capsicum genus.

Some characteristics and benefits are: 

  •     Low in Carbs (9 gm/cup).
  •     Low in Calories.
  •     Rich in vitamins and minerals, such as C (169% of RDA), Beta-carotene (precursor to Vitamin A).
  •     Source of vitamin E, K, Folate and potassium.

Associated benefits of these nutrients include:

  •     Improved immune function.
  •     Improved red blood cell formation.
  •     Improved blood clotting.
  •     Contributions to bone, nerve, muscle, and pregnancy health.

Other plant compounds (capsanthin, biolaxanthin, lutein, quercetin, luteolin) act as anti-oxidants, protecting against cancer and heath disease, as well as acting to improve eye health.

Hot Peppers
The spiciness of hot peppers is affected by the quantity of capsaicinoids present in the pepper.  We experience capsaicinoids by pain, not flavor or smell, but capsaicinoids have benefits other than cuisine.
Capsaicinoids in large quantities improve energy expenditure, especially in people with a high BMI, body mass index.  They also improve vascular (blood vessel) function and cholesterol values, a sure motivation for those concerned with cardiovascular health.  In addition, people who eat such spicy food, tend to consume less salt and have lower blood pressure.

Shades of Night
Peppers are members of the nightshade family, which includes potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes, and tomatotillas.   Though we love them, they don’t always love us.  People struggling with unexplained chronic health issues are often experiencing food sensitivities.  Food sensitivities are very individual to each person.  Nightshades can certainly be the source of a food sensitivity, contributing to GERD, irritable bowel, and migraine headaches, to name a few.   If this is you, try eliminating them from your diet, or come see me at Gothenburg Health.

Bottom Line
Summer is a great time to add these nutrition powerhouses to your diet, unless you think you may be reacting to them.  For those of you who aren’t, they are a terrific source of multiple nutritious compounds.  That being said, don’t ask the vendor at farmer’s market for some Vit C, capsanthin, lutein, and capsaicinoids.  They might look at you funny.  Just say, “I’d like a pound of ‘pickled peppers’! -MLB

Mary Lou Block is a Registered Dietician at Gothenburg Health. To learn more please reach out to Mary Lou: or (308)-537-3661.