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Both raw and roasted sweet red bell peppers are rich in nutrients
Ask the nutrionist
By Karen Collins | Columnist

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Published: 6/2/2010 12:00 AM

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Q. Do roasted red peppers have lower nutritional value compared to raw red peppers?

A. Both raw and roasted sweet red bell peppers are rich in nutrients.

As with many vegetables, a portion of raw red pepper becomes smaller when cooked, so it makes comparison of raw versus cooked pepper awkward. An equal volume of roasted red pepper is a more concentrated version of raw red pepper. Vitamin C content remains about the same, because although more concentrated, cooking destroys some of this heat-sensitive vitamin. Either form is an excellent source of vitamin C, providing nearly a day's recommended amount or beyond in just a half-cup.

Because the portion becomes more concentrated, content of some nutrients, such as vitamin A (mainly as beta-carotene), is higher in roasted red peppers. Furthermore, cooking makes the beta-carotene that's there more easily absorbed. Calories increase somewhat, but peppers are so low in calories that plain roasted red peppers remain a low-calorie food.

When they are marinated in oil, of course, calorie content increases. Sodium content also changes with preparation. Jarred roasted red peppers usually contain added salt, which increases sodium content markedly.

However, you can broil or bake fresh red peppers in a hot oven (about 450 degrees) for 7-10 minutes, then put in a bag to cool for about 15 minutes, and you'll have roasted red peppers with the near-zero sodium content of raw red peppers.

Q. How can people on a gluten-free diet get enough fiber?

A. Gluten-free diets omit wheat, rye and barley, but just because you aren't eating whole-grain breads and cereals doesn't mean your diet has to be low in fiber. Recommended amounts of dietary fiber for most adults range from 21 grams to 38 grams, depending on age and gender

Vegetables and fruits typically supply 3 grams of dietary fiber in a half-cup serving. If you eat five servings a day, that at least gets you to about 15 grams of fiber; aiming for seven or more servings provides even more nutrition and at least 20 grams of dietary fiber.

Dried beans and peas are an excellent source of fiber and nutrients, and each half-cup (after cooking) usually provides about 8 grams of fiber. Each ounce of nuts adds a couple more grams of fiber.

And check with your doctor and registered dietitian about oats; if your medical condition is stable, research now suggests that if you get special pure, uncontaminated oats, this is another safe whole-grain choice.

• Provided by the American Institute for Cancer Research. Learn about the group and its New American Plate program at