Remember being a kid and the excitement of colorful food? If there was too much green, you wouldn’t eat it. So, your parents threw in red, yellow, and orange bell peppers to make the plate look more exciting. As an adult, colorful food is still lots of fun. But, most of us add these colors because of the various health benefits. Bell peppers are packed with nutrients that boost your vision and improve eye health.
Benefits of Bell Peppers
Bell peppers have a combination of important nutrients for vision. They have substantial amounts of water and antioxidants. Specifically, vitamins A, C, and E. Lutein is also a critical nutrient for eye health found in green peppers.
People who struggle with drinking enough water each day should eat more bell peppers for the water content. It’s especially important for eye health because our eyes depend on hydration to function. Every time we blink, the fluid in and around our eyes washes away debris and dirt. It also ensures we have enough lubrication for our eyes to move easily. When we don’t get enough water, we can develop dry eye syndrome which is very uncomfortable and sometimes even painful.
The antioxidants found in bell peppers are awesome for protecting our vision from diseases. Cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are two of the most common vision destroying diseases. But, both can be prevented by getting enough antioxidants in our diet.
Vitamin A is an antioxidant that protects the surface of the eyes’ lenses and decreases vision loss from AMD. Vitamin C helps maintain the health of collagen and connective tissues in the eyeball. It also supports blood vessel strength in the eye and effectively prevents cataracts. Vitamin E protects the eyes’ cells from oxidization damage and from air pollutant damage. Both of which can lead to AMD. Bell peppers are rich in antioxidants.
Does Color Matter?
Each color of bell pepper has a slightly different level of nutrients. In terms of eye health, green bell peppers have the highest concentration of lutein. Lutein has a few different functions in the eyes. First, it filters blue light from affecting the macula and protects against blue light damage. Second, it’s extremely effective at neutralizing free radicals in the eye and therefore preventing AMD. Third, it helps keep the lens clear so that clouding and cataracts don’t develop.
Red peppers are the only bell pepper color with the antioxidant lycopene. This rare nutrient becomes four times more bioavailable after cooking. It also functions as a neutralizer for free radicals in the eyes and protects them from AMD.
Yellow peppers have the highest concentrations of neoxanthin and violaxanthin. Orange bell peppers are low in almost every eye-boosting nutrient, except they’re the highest in zeaxanthin. These three antioxidants are similar to lutein in their anti-oxidative processes. Although they benefit all cells in the body, they tend to collect and concentrate in the eyes.
To boost your vision and protect your eyes, it’s best to get a mix of bell peppers in your diet. It’s recommended to have a serving of green and red peppers each day. Orange and yellow are also beneficial but less so than green and red.
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Vision Boosting Recipe: Tex-Mex Stuffed Bell Peppers
Bell peppers can be added to any savory dish. They make excellent side dishes when cooked, or mid-day snacks when raw. This recipe is a fun take on Tex-Mex burritos or tacos. Instead of using tortillas, the contents are held in nutrient-rich bell peppers. Get all the eye-boosting benefits of eating a pepper while enjoying the savory taste of Tex-Mex stuffing.
- 1 pound of ground beef (or ground turkey for a healthier option)
- 6 bell peppers in assorted colors
- 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 white onion
- 4 minced garlic cloves
- 3 tbsp of tomato paste
- 5 cup of corn
- 5 cups of black beans
- 3 tbsp of taco seasoning
- 2 cups of shredded Pepper Jack cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash the bell peppers and cut the tops off all of them. Remove the seeds and internal pieces of the pepper. Place them on a baking sheet with the hole facing up. If the tops you cut off have lots of edible pepper, cut those pieces off to use in the stuffing.
Take a large saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Once preheated, add the ground beef or turkey. Once the meat is brown, remove from the pan and put in a dish on the side. Pour out the excess fat and liquids from the pan.
Then, add the olive oil to the pan and place back on the burner at medium heat. Dice the white onion and add it along with the bell pepper pieces to the pan. Allow it to sauté for 10-15 minutes. The onion should become translucent and soft.
Add the tomato paste to the pan as well as the minced garlic. Mix the pan contents gently for about two minutes. By this point, you’ll notice a strong aroma of onions and garlic. Now, add in the corn and black beans. Reintegrate the meat back into the mixture. Mix contents all together and stir for a couple minutes.
Sprinkle in the taco seasoning and stir until its fully combined. Then, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in some of the grated cheese and allow it to melt as you stir it. Use a spoon to taste the mixture. Decide if you want to add salt, pepper, or more cheese.
Put the mixture in each bell pepper equally. The oven should be preheated by now, so place the bell pepper in the oven for 30 minutes. Then, take the peppers out and sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the tops of the stuffing. Return the tray back into the oven for another 15 minutes. The cheese should be melted and golden.
Serve while warm or refrigerate and save for later.