Tomatoes vs Red Bell Peppers: (Nutrition Comparison)


Adding tomatoes or red bell peppers to a meal is a great way to add some color and sweetness.

Both are fairly healthy vegetables (yes, tomato is technically a fruit) that are good things to add for most diets.

We’re going to do a quick side-by-side comparison of tomatoes and red peppers so you can decide if you should prioritize one over the other.

Nutritional Value Comparison of Tomatoes and Red Peppers

Let’s start with the macronutrient profiles for tomatoes and red peppers.

All data below on this page is per 100 grams, and comes from the USDA’s nutrition database.

  Tomatoes Red Bell Peppers
Energy (kcal) 22 26
Protein (g) 0.7 1.0
Total Lipid (g) 0.4 0.3
Carbohydrate (g) 3.8 6.0
Fiber (g) 1.0 2.1
Sugars (g) 2.6 4.2

Overall, the profiles are quite similar, but there are a few differences:

  • Red peppers have more carbohydrates, but also more fiber.
  • Red bell peppers are actually higher in sugar than tomatoes.

Vitamins and Minerals in Tomatoes vs Red Peppers

While neither tomatoes or red peppers are packed with vitamins and minerals, they do have a decent amount of certain nutrients to offer.

The RDA (recommended daily allowance) in the table below is a general value for adults that I included just to make comparisons easier.

  RDA Tomatoes Red Bell Peppers
Vitamin C (mg) 90 17.8 128
Vitamin B-6 (mg) 1.3 0.1 0.291
Vitamin A (µg) 900 24.0 157
Folate (µg) 400 10.0 46
Potassium (mg) 2000 193.0 211
Vitamin E (mg) 15 0.0 1.58
Riboflavin (mg) 1.3 0.1 0.085
Vitamin K (µg) 75 0.0 4.9
Niacin (mg) 16 0.5 0.979
Manganese (mg) 2.3 0.1 0.112
Selenium (µg) 55 2.5 0.1
Thiamin (mg) 1.2 0.1 0.054
Phosphorus (mg) 700 19.0 26
Magnesium (mg) 400 8.1 12
Iron (mg) 18 0.1 0.43
Zinc (mg) 11 0.1 0.25
Calcium (mg) 1200 10.0 7
Choline (mg) 550 0.0 5.6
Sodium (mg) 1500 2.5 4
Copper (mg) 900 0.0 0.017
Vitamin B-12 (µg) 2.4 0.0 0
Vitamin D (µg) 15 0.0 0

Except for selenium, red bell peppers have a similar amount of most vitamins and minerals, and substantially more:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamins A, B-6, E, and K
  • Folate
  • Niacin
  • Iron

Both are some of the best plant-based vitamin C sources, but red peppers are in a league of their own.

Tomatoes vs Red Peppers: Which is Healthier?

Both are relatively healthy vegetables to add to most diets.

Although they have similar macro profiles, red bell peppers are healthier in most situations due to having more vitamins and minerals overall.

On top of their nutritional benefits, both of these foods contain certain compounds that may offer other potential benefits.

Tomato Health Benefits

There’s some promising research showing that lycopene may reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease.

Lycopene is an antioxidant, and it’s actually what gives tomatoes their red color.

On top of lycopene, there are other antioxidants in tomatoes that may offer health benefits:

  • Beta carotene
  • Chlorogenic acid

There isn’t a lot of research on these compounds specifically, but they certainly won’t hurt.

Red Pepper Health Benefits

Red bell peppers also contain many antioxidants, including:

  • Capsanthin
  • Violaxanthin
  • Quercetin
  • Luteolin

In addition, red peppers contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which may improve eye health if consumed in significant volumes.

Finally, we noted that red bell peppers have a lot of vitamin C earlier. They also have a decent amount of iron. Since vitamin C improves iron absorption, this makes red peppers a solid choice for those worried about anemia.

Can Tomatoes or Red Bell Peppers Be Unhealthy?

Allergies to both tomatoes and red peppers are rare, but do exist.

Aside from allergies, the only real health concerns are around the fact that both tomatoes and bell peppers are from the nightshade family.

Nightshade plants contain alkaloids, which some claim can harm those with autoimmune diseases. However, not many studies back this up at all, and they usually use way more alkaloids than you would find in tomatoes or bell peppers.

Long story short, both tomatoes and red bell peppers are healthy foods for the vast majority of people to add to their diets. They both offer a good amount of vitamins and minerals without too many calories, as well as other potential health benefits.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.