Did you know that this delicious seasoning also has numerous health benefits? Paprika is rich in vitamins and minerals, contains lots of antioxidants, and can even help prevent cancer! Read on to discover the many amazing uses of this incredible red powder.
1. Paprika is loaded with nutrients
Paprika is a nutrient-rich spice. It’s low in calories and doesn’t have any sodium or cholesterol. Moreover, it also doesn’t contain any saturated fats and is crammed with vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, and vitamin E.
1 tablespoon (6.8 grams) of paprika powder provides:
- Calories: 19
- Protein: 0.325 g
- Fat: 0.296 g
- Carbs: 4 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Vitamin A: 19% of the Daily Value
- Vitamin E: 13% of the Daily Value
- Vitamin B6: 9% of the Daily Value
- Iron: 8% of the Daily Value.
One tablespoon of paprika is enough to fulfill your daily vitamin A needs. And while it’s unlikely that you will be consuming this spice enough to make a significant difference to your diet, having it daily can promote healthy digestion by increasing saliva and stomach acids. This helps in breaking down food and making nutrients available for energy.
2. May help prevent cancer
Paprika also provides you with antioxidants known as carotenoids. They are plant compounds that offer such health benefits as a reduced risk of certain diseases, particularly some forms of cancer. Carotenoids are found in the cells of an array of plants, particularly those with bright rich colors, like peppers are used to make paprika powder.
The carotenoids typically found in paprika are beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and lutein or zeaxanthin. Beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin have been shown to combat oxidative stress, which is believed to increase your risk of certain cancers. Furthermore, a study of almost 2,000 women found that participants with the highest blood levels of beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and total carotenoids had a 25–35% lower chance of developing breast cancer.
3. It’s great for the eyes
As we mentioned, paprika contains vitamin A, lutein, and zeaxanthin. All of these may also boost eye health. Studies have shown that the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, in particular, may prevent eye damage. Also, research suggests that the carotenoids present in paprika can provide protection against eye diseases as well. Additionally, the presence of vitamin B6 in paprika helps keep your eyes healthy. Studies indicate that the consumption of vitamin B6 can lower the onset of macular degeneration and other eye-related diseases.
4. Can improve cholesterol levels
Research says that paprika may improve your cholesterol levels. One study found that capsanthin, the carotenoid found in paprika, can help raise levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, which is linked with a lower risk of heart disease.
Another 12-week study in 100 healthy adults showed that the participants who took a supplement containing 9 mg of paprika carotenoids daily had notably lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. In fact, the total cholesterol levels of those who took paprika were lower than those who got the placebo.
5. May help maintain bone health
Paprika is rich in calcium, potassium, and phosphorus, which are all vital for maintaining healthy bones and muscles. Phosphorus, especially, is an important mineral for maintaining bone shape and strength, and a regular dash of this spice in your diet should help keep the connective tissues in the body strong. Phosphorus also helps keep our teeth, gums, and jaws strong, as it controls calcium absorption. Without it, the calcium in our body goes to waste.
6. Helps keep anemia in check
Since paprika contains a good amount of iron and Vitamin E, it helps the body in producing red blood cells.
Vitamin E is needed to create healthy membranes for the body’s red blood cells while iron is an essential part of hemoglobin, a red protein responsible for transporting oxygen throughout our body. Deficiencies in these two nutrients may lower your red blood cell count and can lead to anemia. It is a condition in which you don't have enough healthy red blood cells to carry sufficient oxygen to your body's tissues.
Anemia is marked by symptoms like fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, and chest pain, but it may also contribute to other illnesses. For example, one study in 200 young women linked low iron consumption to a significant increase in the risk of anemia, compared with those who had sufficient intake.
7. May help manage diabetes
The capsaicin in paprika has the potential to help regulate blood sugar levels and manage diabetes. A 4-week study in 42 pregnant women with diabetes concluded that taking 5 mg of a capsaicin supplement every day considerably decreased post-meal blood sugar levels compared to a placebo.
Another study found that adults who followed a diet rich in capsaicin-containing chili pepper had a marked decrease in their blood insulin levels after meals compared to those who followed a chili-free diet. Lower insulin levels usually signify better blood sugar control.
How to use paprika powder
Paprika originated from the West Indies and South America, and it is majorly manufactured in Hungary, Spain, South America, and California. Today, the popular spice is widely used in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Paprika comes in three main varieties that differ in taste and color: regular or basic paprika, Hungarian paprika, and Spanish paprika.
As we mentioned earlier, this delicious spice is typically used as a seasoning for meats, potato salad, and eggs. In addition, you can sprinkle a dash of paprika powder on meals like hard-boiled eggs, salads, cooked rice, chopped veggies, and even sauces or dips. Its smoky and sweet flavor will go particularly well with rice, seafood, and bean dishes. But if you want a spicier kick in your meals, you can use hot paprika to add to soups and stews.
What's more, you can strengthen paprika's flavor profile by adding it to meat. Some people even use paprika in cocktails and on warm or spicy beverages. Use paprika in typical amounts required for cooking and don’t go overboard with it because some spices have been known to cause allergic reactions. Ground paprika lasts between two and three years, and it should be stored the same way you store all of your dried spices - in a cool, dry place inside an airtight container.
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