Protein In Peppers: The Fact And Fiction

Protein is essential for many of your body’s most basic functions, but you also need it to build tissues including muscles and blood vessels. If you want to eat a nutritious diet, getting adequate protein should be one of your priorities. Peppers might not be the first foods that most of us consider when asked to name high-protein foods: however, there is more to their nutritional value than you might think.

Do peppers contain protein?

All fruits contain some protein and peppers are fruits, which means that all varieties of peppers contain protein. As with most fruits, though, the protein content is relatively low, but they still have enough of it to be a significant source. Peppers contain more than a variety of other vegetables including spinach and watercress, although those plants are considered to be protein-rich.

Do different varieties of peppers contain varying amounts of protein?

Protein content varies between varieties, but usually not by much. For example, a cup of chopped red bell peppers contains 1 g of protein while the same amount of banana peppers will provide just over 2 g; a cup of raw poblano peppers provides 1.02 g, and a cup of serrano chilies will have 1.83 g.

How do peppers compare to high-protein foods?

Peppers offer only a small fraction of the protein seen in high-protein foods. Compare the 2 g that you get from a cup to banana peppers to the amount in legumes and meat. Edamame offers one of the best sources of vegetable protein with over 18 g per cup; lentils are another legume that offers 17.9 g of protein per one-cup serving. Chicken breast is considered one of the foods with the highest protein content. A 100 g serving of chicken breast will give you 32 g of protein.

Do ripe bell peppers have more protein than unripe ones?

Ripe bell peppers contain more nutrients overall because of how long they have been on the vine. Protein is no exception here as ripe bells do contain more of it than unripe ones. The difference is small — 1.2 g in ripe bell peppers versus 1 g in the unripe ones. The most likely source of the extra protein is protein synthesis that occurs during the ripening process.

Does drying cause peppers to lose any of their protein content?

Drying peppers removes the moisture that bacteria and fungi need to live, which lengthens the pepper’s shelf life. Drying can also remove much of a pepper’s nutritional value. For example, drying peppers destroys most of their vitamin C content.

When it comes to most nutrients, drying removes most of the water weight so most of the dried pepper’s weight has a greater nutritional value. For example, 100 g of fresh poblano chilies would give you a little less than 1 g of protein; 100 g of ancho chilies (anchos are dried poblanos) would give you over 11 g of protein. Gram for gram, dried peppers are richer in protein than fresh.

Does cooking affect the protein content of foods?

While proteins are not as sensitive to heat as other nutrients, high temperatures can destroy some of the amino acids that make up the proteins in peppers. Cooked chilies will have less than raw ones.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on March 12, 2020 to include new content.
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