Most people think that color is the only difference between red, green, orange, and yellow bell peppers. We have even pondered that it may even be an evil ploy to sell more bell peppers. But, if you peel back the layers of the pepper, you will find that there are plenty of differences between the different colored bell peppers.
The difference between red, green, orange, and yellow bell peppers
Despite their varied color, from a scientific standpoint, all bell peppers originate from the same genus and species of plant, scientifically known as Capsicum annuum. The difference in color that you see in bell peppers is due the use of different cultivars. This means that cultivars, which is a fancy word for cultivated varieties are plants that have come from removing them from an existing plant rather than from seeds. So on any given bell pepper plant there may exist an array of colored peppers dependent upon many factors. The seed source of all the bell peppers are the same, which in this case is Capsicum annuum, but they have different characteristics depending upon the special variety of the plant.
The two major factors responsible for the difference in a bell pepper’s color is its time of harvesting and degree of ripening. Although it’s true that in most cases a green bell pepper usually matures into a yellow/orange bell pepper and then grows on to gain red color, but this is not always the case. However, it’s a fact that yellow, orange, and red bell peppers are always more ripe than green ones. This is why yellow, orange, and red bell peppers are costlier than green bell peppers, because they require more time in the ground before they can be harvested.
Therefore, it’s important to note that all of the bell peppers come from the same species of plant, and their different colors are achieved by following a natural process, not by any artificial method. However, apart from their unique colors, each differently colored bell pepper has a unique array of nutritional benefits.
1. Green bell pepper
Green bell peppers are picked before they have fully matured and therefore these peppers are often classified as “unripened” among all other peppers. Because they’re prematurely harvested, they have a slightly bitter flavor and will never have the sweet taste of their red, yellow and orange counterparts.
Despite being harvested at an immature stage, green bell peppers have several vital nutrients. This bell pepper has plenty of potassium, which is important for promoting muscle contraction apart from regulating blood pressure. Green bell pepper is also well-known to have vitamin C, which aids in the growth and repair of tissue, improves immunity, guards against infections, and helps in prevention of cancer. The vitamin A you get from this bell pepper enhances your lung function, improves your eyesight, and strengthens your immune system.
2. Red bell pepper
Red bell peppers are considered “fully ripened” or matured bell peppers, because they are picked at the later stages of maturity. They often have a sweet, almost fruity taste. While the nutrients in red bell peppers are same as that in green bell peppers, the quantity of nutrients is higher because these peppers get more time on the plant before harvesting.
In addition to other nutrients the red bell pepper has lycopene, which is an antioxidant pigment known for preventing certain types of cancer such as breast and prostate cancer. Nutrients such as zeaxanthin and lutein present in red bell pepper is known to help prevent cataracts and muscular degeneration. Red bell peppers also have eleven times more beta-carotene, one and a half times more vitamin C, and ten times more vitamin A than green bell peppers.
3. Yellow/Orange bell pepper
Orange and yellow peppers are harvested at the midpoint of maturity and therefore fall in between green and red bell peppers on the “ripeness” spectrum. These bell peppers lack the bitterness often associated with green peppers. Although they contain same type of nutrients as that in red and green bell pepper, their quantities are different.
The amount of nutrients in yellow/orange bell pepper are more than that in green peppers, but less than that found in red peppers. That’s because green peppers are less mature and red peppers are more mature than their yellow/orange pepper counterparts. The amount of vitamin C is nearly double in yellow/orange bell pepper when compared to green bell pepper. However, the quantity of beta-carotene and vitamin A is one-third as that of green bell pepper.
Bell peppers, like most other vegetables, retain highest nutritional value when they are consumed in raw form. And all bell peppers, of all colors, are suitable for raw consumption. Now that you know the difference between red, green, orange, and yellow bell peppers, it’s time for you to grab yourself some of these crunchy rainbow veggies and make them a vital part of your favorite dishes to get a proper nutritional boost. Did reading this change your color preference for bell peppers? Tell us about it in the comments!