What is the Difference Between Green, Red, and Yellow Bell Peppers?

Updated: Aug 13, 2021

By Ms. Susan M. Collins-Smith, MSU Extension Service

Bell peppers come in a rainbow of colors and have many health benefits. The variety and amount of time a bell pepper spends on the plant determines its color and ripeness.

Green bell peppers appear first and are the least ripe. As they mature, they usually turn another color. This may be yellow, orange, red, or purple. There are even some bell pepper varieties that mature to nearly white or almost black in color.


Color isn’t their only difference. Nutrient content and taste also vary among bell pepper varieties.


Nutrients

If you want to up your Vitamin C intake, you can try adding bell peppers to your diet. All bell peppers contain Vitamin C. It is an essential nutrient that helps the body repair tissues and heal wounds. Vitamin C also helps your body absorb iron. Green and red bell peppers, respectively, have two and three times more Vitamin C than an orange.


Bell peppers also contain Vitamins B6, K, A, and E along with minerals and antioxidants. As bell peppers ripen, their cancer-fighting antioxidant properties change. Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in green bell peppers and are important for our eye health. Violaxanthin is found in yellow bell peppers, and capsanthin makes fully mature bell peppers red. Red bell peppers, which are the most nutrient-dense, also contain lycopene.


Taste

As bell peppers ripen, they get sweeter. Green bell peppers are slightly bitter and the least sweet, while red bell peppers are the sweetest.


These Slow Cooker Stuffed Bell Peppers will get dinner on the table quickly without heating up the kitchen.


Find information on growing bell peppers and other vegetables in Extension Publication 1091, “Garden Tabloid.”

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