Green, Yellow and Red Bell Peppers — What's the Difference?

Bell peppers are members of the Nightshade family of vegetables along with potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants. Like chili peppers, bell peppers originated in South America where seeds of a wild variety are believed to date back to 5,000 B.C. The various colored Bell Peppers all come from the same plant, but differ in their level of maturity:

GREEN PEPPERS

Green bell peppers are harvested before they are fully ripe, one reason they are less expensive than other varieties. Green bell peppers will continue to first turn yellow and then red if they are left on the plant to mature. They have a slightly bitter flavor and will never have the sweet taste of their red, yellow and orange counterparts.

ORANGE AND YELLOW PEPPERS

More mature than green bell peppers, yellow and orange peppers have a fruity taste but are not as commonly found in local markets as green and red bell peppers.

RED PEPPERS

These are more mature than green, orange or yellow bell peppers. They are rich in carotenoid phytonutrients and contain almost eleven times more beta-carotene than green bell peppers as well as one and a half times more vitamin C. Red Bell Peppers have a sweet, almost fruity taste. Pimento and paprika are both prepared from red bell peppers.

There are also other varieties that have a more tapered shape and do not have the lobes characteristic of the green, orange yellow and red varieties.

COMPARISON BETWEEN GREEN, RED AND YELLOW BELL PEPPERS

Nutrient Green Red Yellow
Vitamin A 12% DV 105% DV 3.6% DV
Vitamin C 137% DV 292% DV 282% DV
Beta Carotene 340 mcg 841 mcg 110 mcg

* Most other vitamins and minerals are comparable for the two varieties. All quantities and % daily values (DV) are based on one cup (92g) of raw bell peppers. A one cup measurement for other varieties is not currently available on the USDA database. No daily values for beta-carotene are currently available.

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