Can You Eat Bell Peppers on Keto? Carbs and Calories

Bell peppers often cause doubts in keto lovers because they are not green leafy vegetables. Someone avoids it, and someone occasionally adds it when cooking keto food. Bell peppers have a sweet taste and juicy flesh, so they may seem too high-carb for a keto diet. Therefore, this issue requires careful discussion. Is bell pepper keto?

In general, we can say that bell pepper is keto as long as you eat it in moderation and count your daily carbohydrate intake. You can add bell peppers to your keto menu after an adaptation period (2-3 weeks after starting the diet).

If everything is simple in the case of spinach, then the discussion of bell pepper requires detailed answers. How many carbs are in bell peppers? How many bell peppers can you eat on a keto diet? What benefits does this vegetable have for your health? Let’s figure it all out together! 

Is Bell Pepper Keto?

If you love bell pepper and want to eat it during your keto diet, you need to know its nutritional details. On average, 100 grams of bell pepper contains:

  • 26 calories
  • 1 gram protein
  • 3 grams of fat
  • 6 grams of carbohydrates
  • 2 grams of fiber
  • 4 grams of net carbs.

So, one medium bell pepper contains 4-5 grams of net carbs, while one large vegetable can contain 6-7 grams of net carbs. You also need to know that the amount of carbs in bell pepper depends on the color of the vegetable. So, green bell pepper contains 2-3 grams of net carbohydrates less than red. Based on this information, you can eat one large bell pepper on keto as long as your total daily carbs are under 20 grams. 

Bell Pepper Health Benefits

Bell pepper belongs to the Solanaceae family. It means that some people may be intolerant to the alkaloids found in nightshade vegetables. I have described all the details about nightshades and alkaloids here. If you experience discomfort from bell peppers, you should limit it in your diet.

The good news is that few people have nightshade intolerance and can eat bell peppers without restriction. It contains a large number of substances vital to your body. It has more than 500 micrograms of vitamin A and P. The latter has a noticeable effect on the condition of blood vessels, making them more elastic. It also helps to normalize blood pressure and has anti-inflammatory properties. And beta-carotene (vitamin A) is the main value of bell pepper. This powerful natural antioxidant prevents the formation of tumors and slows down the aging process [1].

Peppers contain a large amount of vitamin C and folic acid. These elements enhance each other’s actions, which has a positive effect on their absorption by the body. In addition, due to the content of B vitamins (B1, B2, B6), bell pepper can help with insomnia, constant depression, and stress and is also useful for getting rid of fatigue

In addition to vitamins, bell pepper is rich in minerals. Its juicy pulp contains potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, magnesium, and calcium, as well as fluorine, iodine, and copper. Each of them is essential in the normal functioning of the human body and maintaining all its vital functions.

The useful properties of bell peppers also depend on the color of the vegetable [2]. Red peppers contain lycopene, which has antioxidant properties and reduces cancer risk. Green peppers are rich in acids that can remove carcinogens from the body. Let’s take a closer look at bell pepper health benefits.

Improves Brain Function

Bell pepper is rich in vitamin C, and it has more of it than an orange. One of the properties of vitamin C is to improve cognitive function. This vitamin has a positive effect on mental processes, thanks to which a person gets the opportunity to perceive, transmit, analyze and remember various information. Scientists have found a link between an acute lack of vitamin C and a state of depression and a slowdown in cognitive functions [3].

Strengthens Immune System

Bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which supports your immune system. Most researchers agree that getting enough vitamin A can protect against infectious diseases and reduce chronic inflammation [4]. It is also needed to create important cells that fight infectious diseases.

Protects Mental Health

Another benefit of bell pepper is that it improves your mental health and mood. The fact is that bell peppers are rich in vitamin B6, which affects your mental health [5]. According to research, it can actually relieve symptoms of depression and help your body deal with stress. Sufficient intake of vitamin B6 also helps to improve sleep and fight fatigue at the end of a hard day.

Helps Lose Weight

Bell peppers, especially red ones, contain the natural compound capsanthin. It is also found in cayenne and chili peppers. Scientists have suggested that capsanthin promotes weight loss and speeds up metabolism [6]. A study in mice has proven that this compound can reduce body weight and lower glucose and cholesterol levels.

Improves Digestion

Enzymes in bell peppers allow beneficial substances from food to be better absorbed in the stomach [7]. Thus, the digestive processes are easier and do not cause discomfort. In addition, the high fiber content in bell peppers helps eliminate the bloating and constipation that sometimes occurs at the start of a keto diet.

Reduces High Blood Pressure

Bell pepper contains high amounts of quercetin. In fact, this is the pigment responsible for the bright color of the pepper. It is a member of the flavonoid group and acts as a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties [8]. It also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and helps to eliminate blood clotting.

Yummy Bonus: Keto Stuffed Bell Peppers

If you want to add this healthy vegetable to your keto menu, then I have a delicious recipe for you. It is a great keto dinner option that contains the right proportion of proteins, fats, and carbs. Keto stuffed bell peppers can keep you full for hours without hurting your ketosis.

Ingredients:

  • 3 bell peppers
  • 1 tomato
  • 500 g ground beef or pork 
  • 2 tbsp. keto mayonnaise
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt, pepper to taste.

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375F. Wash the peppers, cut them in half, and remove the seeds. Cut the tomato into small pieces. Fry the minced meat over medium heat until half cooked, and add the tomato, salt, pepper, and chopped garlic. Simmer another 5-10 minutes. Place the ground beef in a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of your favorite keto mayo.

Fill the halves of the bell peppers with minced meat, put on a baking sheet, and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until the pepper is soft. The exact baking time depends on your oven.

You can change this recipe to your liking. For example, if you want a little Italian touch, you can add keto bolognese sauce to the ground beef. You can substitute pork or beef for chicken with mushrooms. If you fill the peppers with sauteed mushrooms with onions, you have a great keto vegan dinner. I also like to add grated cheese to minced meat or fill peppers with delicate cream cheese with spinach. Yummy!

Conclusion

Bell peppers are a great addition to your keto diet. This vegetable contains few carbs but many nutrients that are valuable for your body. In addition, bell peppers are an excellent source of fiber, which is especially needed during a low-carb diet.

I recommend that you eat bell peppers after the keto adaptation process. To stay in ketosis, you also need to make sure you’re not eating more than 20 grams of net carbs. So add bell peppers to your keto menu and enjoy delicious recipes without the extra carbs!

 

Sources:

  1. Sun T, Xu Z, Wu CT, Janes M, Prinyawiwatkul W, No HK. Antioxidant activities of different colored sweet bell peppers (Capsicum annuum L.). J Food Sci. 2007 Mar;72(2):S98-102. doi:10.1111/j.1750-3841.2006.00245.x. PMID: 17995862.
  2. Mohd Hassan, N., Yusof, N. A., Yahaya, A. F., Mohd Rozali, N. N., & Othman, R. (2019). Carotenoids of CapsicumFruits: Pigment Profile and Health-Promoting Functional Attributes. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland)8(10), 469. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox8100469
  3. Plevin, D., & Galletly, C. (2020). The neuropsychiatric effects of vitamin C deficiency: a systematic review. BMC psychiatry20(1), 315. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-020-02730-w
  4. Reifen R. Vitamin A as an anti-inflammatory agent. Proc Nutr Soc. 2002 Aug;61(3):397-400. doi: 10.1079/PNS2002172. PMID: 12230799
  5. Noah L, Dye L, Bois De Fer B, Mazur A, Pickering G, Pouteau E. Effect of magnesium and vitamin B6 supplementation on mental health and quality of life in stressed healthy adults: Post-hoc analysis of a randomised controlled trial. Stress Health. 2021 Dec;37(5):1000-1009. doi: 10.1002/smi.3051. Epub 2021 May 6. PMID: 33864354.
  6. Wu T, Gao Y, Hao J, Geng J, Zhang J, Yin J, Liu R, Sui W, Gong L, Zhang M. Capsanthin extract prevents obesity, reduces serum TMAO levels and modulates the gut microbiota composition in high-fat-diet induced obese C57BL/6J mice. Food Res Int. 2020 Feb;128:108774. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2019.108774. Epub 2019 Nov 8. PMID: 31955744.
  7. Yoshioka M, St-Pierre S, Suzuki M, Tremblay A. Effects of red pepper added to high-fat and high-carbohydrate meals on energy metabolism and substrate utilization in Japanese women. Br J Nutr. 1998 Dec;80(6):503-10. doi: 10.1017/s0007114598001597. PMID: 10211048.
  8. Salehi, B., Machin, L., Monzote, L., Sharifi-Rad, J., Ezzat, S. M., Salem, M. A., Merghany, R. M., El Mahdy, N. M., Kılıç, C. S., Sytar, O., Sharifi-Rad, M., Sharopov, F., Martins, N., Martorell, M., & Cho, W. C. (2020). Therapeutic Potential of Quercetin: New Insights and Perspectives for Human Health. ACS omega5(20), 11849–11872. https://doi.org/10.1021/acsomega.0c01818

 

 

About

Ana Rinkevich is a writer specializing in health, nutrition, fitness, and weight loss. Over the past 10 years, she has used various methods to deal with obesity, metabolic syndrome, and eating disorders. Proud keto follower for 6 years - lost 100 pounds and fought insulin resistance. Ana shares her experience, tips, and motivation to help people use eating habits for better health and harmony with the body.