Indian, Moroccan, and many European cuisines (Spanish, Austrian, and Hungarian) wouldn’t be as much delicious and enjoyable as they are unless they include one secret ingredient, one powerful substance: paprika.
These colorful vegetables became an important part of many continental savory dishes we adore.
The spice we use to add a sweet or mild-spicy kick to our food is made from grinding dried bell peppers and chili peppers.
The flavor differs in comparison to chili and cayenne peppers, however, when it comes to nutritional value, paprika is an aggressive spice packed with essential vitamins and minerals.
The spice’s colors varies because the Capscium annuum family of peppers include sweet bell peppers, hot red pepper, hot green peppers and other varieties.
Why Is Paprika Good for Health?
You are missing an opportunity to boost flavor and nutrition if you use paprika as nothing more than an added dash of color sprinkled over deviled eggs or potato salad.
You don’t need to use a lot of paprika to benefit from it. Even a small amount delivers antioxidants and nutrients.
The Capsicum annuum family of peppers includes sweet bell peppers, hot green peppers, hot red peppers and several other varieties in between.
This, or any combination of peppers, can be dried and ground into paprika.
That’s why the spice’s color varies, and its flavor ranges from sweet or mild to fiery hot.
Paprika is the defining ingredient in goulash and also pairs well with chicken, fish, rice, pasta, cottage cheese, cauliflower and potatoes.
Vitamin A actually refers to several related compounds, including a group called carotenoids.
Paprika has four carotenoids: beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
All four function as antioxidants, but the first two are converted into the form of vitamin A that is used in the eyes to turn light into vision and is needed to produce the protein that makes skin.
As antioxidants, carotenoids prevent cellular damage that can lead to chronic health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and arthritis.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are the primary antioxidants found in the eyes. They lower the chance of developing age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
One teaspoon of paprika has 37 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects fats in the body from damage by free radicals.
While it’s important to limit saturated and trans fats, you still need some healthy fats in your diet to protect nerve cells, insulate and protect organs and form the structure of every cell in your body.
Molecules made from fat and protein, called lipoproteins, carry cholesterol through the bloodstream.
With vitamin E protecting the fat component of lipoproteins, they are less likely to cause inflammation that contributes to heart disease.
One teaspoon of paprika has 5 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin E.
One teaspoon of paprika has 4 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin B-6. Like most B vitamins, B-6 is a coenzyme.
That means it must be present for about 100 other enzymes to do their jobs.
These enzymes initiate biochemical reactions responsible for the creation of energy-providing glucose and the production of neurotransmitters and hemoglobin.
Vitamin B-6 also removes homocysteine from the blood, which may lower the chance of developing cardiovascular disease.
In addition to carrying oxygen through the body, iron is a component in many proteins with diverse roles, including energy creation.
Men gain 6 percent and women get 3 percent of their recommended daily intake of iron in 1 teaspoon of paprika.
Capsaicin is the active ingredient in chili peppers that causes their heat.
In laboratory experiments, capsaicin relaxes blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure, according to research published in the August 2010 issue of “Cellular Metabolism.”
It is also used in topical creams to relieve pain.
What health benefits we have from consuming paprika?
How can we boost our health?
Vitamin B6 is vital in enabling 100 other enzymes to perform their functions in the body.
These other enzymes initiate biochemical processes in the body, creating energy, and providing glucose.
Other important nutrient for creating energy is iron, which carries the oxygen thought out the body.
Paprika is known as a stimulant and energizer, and can be used to treat tiredness, lethargy and depression.
As mentioned, paprika contains carotenoids, which are important for eyes health.
When converted into vitamin A, this vitamin is used by eyes to turn light into vision.
In particular, carotenoids lutein and zea-xanthin reduce the risk of developing cataracts and age related macular degeneration.
Essential vitamins and minerals in paprika protect against cardiovascular diseases, that is, heart attack and stroke.
Vitamin E reduces the risk of heart disease by preventing damage caused by free radicals. Iron, magnesium, and potassium help purify the blood and improve heart health.
Paprika is particularly beneficial for people who suffer from inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
It can help relieve swelling caused by arthritis and relieve other pains in the body.
Due to capsaicin, paprika is helpful in lowering blood pressure because this compound relaxes the blood vessels.
Paprika is a stimulant and aids in digestion by normalizing acid in the stomach and boosting saliva. It is often used to treat indigestion.
Paprika promotes healthy sleep due to vitamin B6, which has powerful psychological and neurological effects.
This vitamin contributes to the production of melatonin, “sleep hormone”, helping with normal sleep cycle.
It also boost body’s levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, stress-reducing hormones.
Iron is involved in the formation of red blood cells, and vitamin C enables the body to absorb iron.
Including paprika in your diet help prevents anemia.
Paprika has antibacterial properties – a protein found in paprika inhibits the growth of certain bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella.
These bacteria are often transferred through ingestion. Thus including paprika in your diet helps inhibit their growth.
Cuts and wound healing
Vitamin E helps form clots in case of cuts and wounds, because it helps in the production of red cells.
Paprika prevents the occurrence of freckles and age spots due to rich content of vitamins, beta-carotene and iron.
Vitamin A prevents the appearance of wrinkles, free lines and sagging skin, and promotes a bright complexion.
Vitamin B6 prevents hair loss, iron helps transfer the oxygen to the hair follicles, and it stimulates the hair growth by improving circulation.
One serving of paprika (one tablespoon) contains about:
- 20 calories
- 3.8 grams carbohydrates
- 1 gram protein
- 0.9 gram fat
- 2.5 grams fiber
- 3,560 international units vitamin A (71 percent DV)
- 0.3 milligram vitamin B6 (14 percent DV)
- 2 milligrams vitamin E (10 percent DV)
- 1.6 milligrams iron (9 percent DV)
- 4.8 milligrams vitamin C (8 percent DV)
- 5.4 microgram vitamin K (7 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligram riboflavin (7 percent DV)
- 1 milligram niacin (5 percent DV)
- 158 milligrams potassium (5 percent DV)
How to Use Paprika
Paprika is a spice, it must be used in appropriate amounts to not overwhelm the taste buds. However, it goes far beyond the traditionally American deviled egg.
In the U.S and England., it’s also commonly used to season barbecue sauce, ketchup, meats and potato salad. Mexican cuisine is full of this spice in sauces, salsas and filling for items like chile relleno. It’s ordinary to roast peppers before using them to create paprika for a more smokey flavor.
Many cultures also appreciate the richness in flavor of paprika prepared in oil. This increases the heat from hot peppers and helps the body to absorb many of the antioxidants present in it.
In several countries, such as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru, cooks add it to meats and oil to ramp up the flavor profile.
Paprika is also widely used in Europe, Africa and Asia as well in a variety of dishes. Everything from seafood to rice finds itself flavored with the aroma of this pepper spice, the most famous being the goulash of Hungary.
I especially like to use paprika in my recipe for White Chicken Chili, adding a smokey quality to this winter dish high in healthy fats.
As it works well to thicken sauces and add flavor, I also use this spice when preparing Homemade Ranch Dressing. The stuff you buy off the shelf is full of mystery ingredients, but this one will have you clamoring for a salad.