Red Bell Peppers for the Heart
The bell pepper is a member of the nightshade family of vegetables, which includes potatoes, eggplants, and tomatoes. They are available in several colors: green and purple peppers have a slightly bitter flavor, while red, orange, and yellow peppers are sweeter and almost fruity. Red bell peppers are actually green peppers that have been allowed to ripen on the vine. The spices pimento and paprika are both prepared from red bell peppers.
Bell peppers are one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. It is a good source of a large number of nutrients, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin K, thiamine, folic acid, and vitamin B6. Bell peppers are also a very good source of phytochemicals with exceptional antioxidant activity. Red bell peppers have significantly higher levels of nutrients than green. Red bell peppers also contain lycopene, a carotene that offers protection against cancer and heart disease.
Studies have shown that bell peppers exert a protective effect against cataracts, possibly due to their vitamin C and beta-carotene content. However, like other nutrient-dense vegetables, they contain many different powerful phytochemicals. Bell peppers also contain substances, including capsaicin, flavonoids, and vitamin C, which have been shown to prevent blood clot formation and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Bell pepper consumption should be promoted for individuals with elevated cholesterol levels.
Bell peppers should be smooth, firm, bright and feel heavy for their size! They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. They are great raw, grilled, roasted and more! Throw them in your next stew, soup or salad. Enjoy!
Fennel is in season this month and is a wonderful choice during cold weather due to it aromatic properties, high levels of vitamin C, and digestive benefits from high fiber and herbal support. Fennel has been used as an antispasmodic, stomach tonic, and also used to relieve symptoms of both menopause and infant colic.
Fennel has been grown throughout Europe, especially areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, and the Near East since ancient times. It was grown initially for digestive ailments. Today, the United States is one of the top cultivators of fennel.
Fennel is a member of the Umbelliferae family along with carrots, celery, and parsley. Fennel’s aromatic taste is unique, but still quite similar to licorice and anise, while its texture is similar to that of celery, being crunchy and striated. The bulbs, stalks, leaves (fronds), and seeds are all edible and can be used both, cooked and raw. The fronds have a delicate taste, therefore primarily used raw and are great when added to salads. The seeds are often roasted to enhance their flavor.
Here is a fun fact that resonated to my athlete side… Fennel is the Greek name for marathon. It seems that back around 490 B.C.E., the Greeks defeated the Persians in a fennel field exactly 26 miles and 385 yards from Athens. They sent a runner bearing the good news back home. Ever since then the length of a marathon race has remained the same as the distance from the fennel field into town: 26 miles, 385 yards.
Thanks for visiting my blog. My goal is to provide clients with individualized nutrition information to increase your overall health and vitality! I work with clients one on one and provide information to small groups in nutrition and cooking classes in the East Bay.