Small sweet peppers, also known as mini bell peppers or snacking peppers, are a nutrient-dense, low-calorie vegetable that can be enjoyed as a healthy snack or used to add flavor and vitamins to meals. But how many calories are actually in these bite-sized peppers?
In this comprehensive guide, we will provide a detailed calorie breakdown for different types and sizes of small sweet peppers. We will also compare the calorie content to other vegetables and look at how preparation methods can alter the calories. By the end, you will have a clear understanding of the calorie count in small sweet peppers.
Calories in Small Sweet Peppers
Small sweet peppers come in a range of sizes, from extra small peppers that are about 1 inch long up to medium peppers around 3 inches in length. The larger the pepper, the more calories it will contain.
Here is an overview of the average calorie content in different sizes of raw small sweet peppers:
|Pepper Size||Calories per Pepper|
|Extra Small (1 inch)||5 calories|
|Small (2 inches)||10 calories|
|Medium (3 inches)||15 calories|
As you can see, even a medium 3 inch sweet mini pepper only contains around 15 calories. This makes them an extremely low-calorie vegetable.
For comparison, here are the calories in some other common raw vegetables (per 1 cup chopped):
– Cucumber: 16 calories
– Tomatoes: 32 calories
– Carrots: 52 calories
– Bell pepper: 30 calories
– Broccoli: 31 calories
So small sweet peppers contain a similar amount or even fewer calories than many other raw veggies. The only vegetable lower in calories is cucumber.
Calories by Color
Small sweet peppers come in a range of colors, including green, yellow, orange, and red. But is there any difference in calories based on the color?
The short answer is no. All colors of small sweet peppers contain roughly the same number of calories. The color is determined by how ripe the pepper is rather than nutritional differences.
An unripe green pepper will have slightly fewer calories than a fully ripe red or yellow pepper. But we’re talking no more than a couple calories difference.
So you can choose small sweet peppers based on your color preference rather than worrying about calories. Just keep in mind that smaller peppers have fewer calories than larger ones.
Factors That Alter Calorie Content
While a medium 3 inch raw sweet mini pepper contains around 15 calories, there are some factors that can slightly increase or decrease the calorie content:
Cooking peppers can change their calorie content in a couple of ways. Some cooking techniques like frying in oil will significantly increase the calories.
However, boiling, steaming, roasting, or grilling peppers generally won’t add any meaningful calories. The cooking process may just soften the peppers and make some nutrients easier to absorb.
So enjoy roasted, grilled, or sauteed peppers to add flavor without packing on many extra calories. But avoid fried or heavily oiled cooking methods.
Be mindful of any high-calorie ingredients added to peppers, like oil, butter, cheese, dressings, etc. These can quickly turn an ultra low-calorie vegetable into a high-calorie dish.
For example, one cup of plain roasted red peppers has only around 40 calories. But one cup of roasted red peppers marinated in oil can contain over 200 calories.
To keep calories low, stick to plain peppers or flavor them with herbs, spices, lemon/lime juice, vinegar, salsa, or other low-calorie options. Monitor portions of high-calorie add-ins like oil and cheese.
The water content of peppers may vary somewhat depending on growing conditions. A very water-dense pepper would be lower in calories than a drier one. However, this is a minor factor that likely only fluctuates by a couple calories.
Benefits of Small Sweet Peppers
Beyond being low in calories, small sweet peppers provide an impressive array of nutrients and antioxidants. Here are some of the top benefits of adding them to your diet:
High in Vitamins
Sweet mini peppers are an excellent source of vitamins C and A. One cup of chopped, raw sweet peppers contains over 100% of the RDI for vitamin C and about 15% for vitamin A.
They also provide vitamins B6, folate, and K. Consuming peppers is a tasty way to meet your daily nutrient needs.
Colored peppers are rich in protective plant compounds like carotenoids and flavonoids with antioxidant properties. The red pigments in peppers contain lycopene, a carotenoid antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red color too.
These antioxidants can help reduce inflammation, fight damage from free radicals, and lower disease risk. Peppers add bright color and antioxidants to any dish.
A medium 3 inch sweet mini pepper has 1-2 grams of fiber, primarily from the skin and seeds. The fiber in peppers can support regularity, gut health, and weight management.
Low in Calories
With only around 15 calories in a medium pepper, these veggies are useful for reducing calorie intake and maintaining a healthy weight. Their high water and fiber content also increases satiety, so you feel full on minimal calories.
Mini sweet peppers can be eaten raw, roasted, grilled, baked, sauteed, and added to everything from salads to nachos. Their mild sweet taste pairs well with numerous flavors. Take advantage of their versatility to work more peppers into your diet.
How to Incorporate Small Sweet Peppers
Here are some simple ways to enjoy sweet mini peppers and benefit from their low calorie content:
– Snack on raw, plain peppers or dip them hummus, salsa, or guacamole
– Stuff peppers with tuna, chicken salad, or cheese for a mini meal
– Roast or grill peppers to liven up tacos, pizza, salads, pasta, and grain bowls
– Saute peppers with shrimp, chicken, or tofu and serve over rice or quinoa
– Add raw thinly sliced peppers to sandwiches, wraps, and pitas
– Throw whole mini peppers into soups, stews, omelets, casseroles, etc.
– Bake stuffed peppers filled with turkey meatballs, quinoa, beans, etc.
When using peppers in recipes, consider mixing colors for a vibrant medley of nutrients. Just remember that smaller peppers generally have fewer calories than their larger counterparts.
Are mini sweet peppers genetically modified?
Most mini and snacking peppers sold in grocery stores today have been bred to be smaller through cross-breeding, not genetic modification. Seed companies use traditional breeding techniques to select for sweeter, smaller peppers over many generations.
Do different colored mini peppers taste different?
There are only subtle flavor differences between colored mini sweet peppers. Green peppers are slightly more bitter. Red and orange tend to be the sweetest. Yellow and orange have a bit of fruity or citrusy flavor. But in general, the tastes are quite similar across colors.
Can you eat mini pepper stems?
Yes, the stems of mini peppers are completely edible. In fact, leaving the stems on can make the peppers easier to eat without the juice dripping down your fingers. The stems provide a bit of additional fiber too.
Are mini peppers better for you than regular bell peppers?
Nutritionally, they are almost identical. Sweet mini peppers tend to be more tender with thinner walls. They contain slightly less vitamin C than full sized peppers pound for pound. But in terms of calories, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, mini and bell peppers are comparable.
Do mini peppers cause inflammation?
No, peppers are often considered an anti-inflammatory food. They contain beneficial antioxidants that combat inflammation. People with arthritis are sometimes concerned about peppers due to nightshade sensitivity. But the majority of people tolerate them well and experience no inflammation.
The Bottom Line
Small sweet mini peppers provide an abundance of flavor, nutrients, and antioxidants for minimal calories. A medium 3 inch pepper contains only around 15 calories. Even the larger peppers stay under 25 calories, making them an ultra low-calorie choice.
Red, orange, yellow, and green mini peppers are all similarly low in calories. Cooking method can increase calorie content, so stick to raw or plain roasted, grilled or steamed peppers.
Enjoy snacking on these petite peppers or incorporate them into meals and sides for a boost of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber without excess calories. Mini peppers are the perfect low-calorie choice whether you are watching your weight or just want to increase your vegetable intake.