We love to eat all those continental dishes, garnished with pepper. These colorful veggies form an important part of savory dishes too. But not many know that these tasty veggies pack a punch when it comes to nutrition.
Peppers are used in both whole and powdered forms. When we talk about powdered peppers, paprika deserves a worthy mention. It is basically a spice made from grinding dried bell peppers and chili peppers. Its flavor is pretty mild in comparison to chili and cayenne peppers, which are fiery spices. This is because it has a lower dose of capsaicin, a compound which is responsible for causing the burning sensation. Its color varies from bright orange red to deep red depending on the type of peppers used.
What is Paprika?
Paprika is widely used in Hungarian cuisine, with the finest quality paprika coming from this country. It is mostly used as a garnish and for seasoning. On being heated, it releases its color and flavor and is also used by commercial food and cosmetic manufacturers to add color to their products. In Hungary, six different varieties of paprika are available with flavors ranging from delicate to hot. If you want to impart color to your dish without altering its taste, a small amount of paprika is a great option. All you need to do is stir some paprika in oil before adding it to any dish. Paprika is not just a spice that adds color, but is also rich in vitamin C and carotenoids, providing a variety of health and beauty benefits.
Paprika is also used in Austrian, Spanish, Moroccan, and Indian cuisines. Unlike other spices, Hungarian paprika has a balanced flavor which is warm with a small degree of sweetness. Spanish paprika is comparatively milder and is classified into three varieties- ‘dulce’ (sweet and mild variety), ‘agridulce’ (bittersweet variety) and ‘picante’ (hot variety). This spice is available all year round in your local grocery stores and it pairs well with rice, chicken, fish, eggs, pasta, cottage cheese, potatoes, and cauliflower. While purchasing paprika, it is advisable to go for organic spice to obtain all its potent nutrients.
Skin Benefits of Paprika (Degi Mirch):
Paprika not only enhances the health of your body but also improves the appearance of your skin. The rich array of health benefiting vitamins and antioxidants make it beneficial for your skin in the following ways:
1. Lightens Complexion:
Paprika is packed with vitamins, iron, and beta-carotene, which prevent the occurrence of freckles and age spots. They improve your complexion by restricting the production of melanin, which is responsible for making your skin darker.
2. Anti-ageing Benefits:
As already mentioned, paprika is rich in beta-carotene, which gets converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A plays a crucial role in the maintenance of healthy skin. It prevents the occurrence of wrinkles and promotes a bright complexion.
3. Paprika for Glowing Skin:
You can prepare a facial mask by combining a tablespoon of paprika with two tablespoons of honey. Apply it all over your face in an even layer and leave for 20 minutes. This will even out your skin tone as well as reduce fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, sagging skin, and dullness. It can also treat blemishes and blackheads, making your skin soft and glowing. However, it is advisable to do a patch test before using it topically to ensure that you do not develop allergic reactions.
4. Treatment of Skin Problems:
The amazing antibacterial properties of paprika make it effective for the treatment of skin problems caused by bacteria. Acne is one such problem. Including paprika in your diet may help in preventing the occurrence of acne.
5. Treatment of Spider Veins:
Paprika has been found to be useful in the prevention and treatment of spider veins because it possesses certain properties that strengthen the veins and blood within the body. If you have spider veins in your legs, you can use this spice regularly in your diet to diminish these veins and prevent the formation of new ones.
Hair Benefits of Paprika:
Paprika contains more hair health benefiting nutrients than most vitamin pills! The rich slew of vitamins and minerals in this spice provide the following benefits to your hair:
6. Prevents Hair Loss:
Paprika is a rich source of vitamin B6, which helps in preventing hair loss. Paprika also contains substantial amount of iron, which facilitates the transfer of oxygen to the hair follicles. It stimulates hair growth by improving circulation to the scalp.
7. Maintains Hair Color:
Vitamin B6 in paprika is involved in the production of melanin, the pigment that imparts color to your hair. In fact, sweet paprika powder can be added to henna to impart a reddish tint to hair while coloring it. However, before using it on your scalp, it is advisable to do a patch test on the inside of your wrist to avoid an allergic reaction.
Health Benefits of Paprika:
This mild paprika spice is loaded with antioxidants as well as essential vitamins and minerals that can keep your body healthy. Its rich color can be attributed to the presence of carotenoids. Making sure you make it a part of your diet can impart you the following paprika health benefits:
8. Anti-inflammatory Properties:
Paprika possesses great anti-inflammatory properties and is particularly beneficial for people suffering from autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. It is helpful in relieving swelling caused by arthritis as well as other aches and pains in the body.
[ Read: Best Anti Inflammatory Foods ]
9. Lowers Blood Pressure:
This quality can be attributed to the presence of capsaicin in paprika, though it is lower in comparison to other peppers. Capsaicin aids in lowering blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels.
[ Read: Home Remedies For Low Blood Pressure ]
10. Provides Energy:
Paprika is an important source of vitamin B6, which is a coenzyme. In other words, it is vital to enable 100 other enzymes to perform their function perfectly. They initiate biochemical reactions in the body that create energy, providing glucose while producing neurotransmitters and haemoglobin. This spice also contains iron, which carries oxygen throughout the body and is a component of many proteins. These proteins are responsible for energy creation. Paprika is an awesome stimulant and energizer, which can be used to treat conditions like tiredness, lethargy, and depression.
11. Eye Health:
Vitamin A plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy eyesight and basically refers to a group of compounds called carotenoids. Paprika contains four carotenoids namely—beta cryptoxanthin, beta-carotene, lutein, and zea-xanthin. This vitamin is used by the eyes to turn light into vision. Lutein and zea-xanthin reduce the risk of developing age related macular degeneration and cataracts. It is advisable to combine paprika with a source of fats such as olive oil to fully reap the benefits of carotenoids.
12. Assists Digestion:
Paprika aids in digestion by normalizing acid in the stomach. It is a great stimulant, which facilitates digestion by boosting saliva and stomach acids. It can be used to treat indigestion. However, high doses of paprika may interact with other medications, so it is advisable to consult your physician before using paprika for this purpose.
13. Promotes Sound Sleep:
Vitamin B6 in paprika has powerful neurological and psychological effects. It contributes to the production of the ‘sleep hormone’ melatonin, helping you maintain a normal sleep cycle. Besides, it boosts your body’s serotonin and norepinephrine levels, both of which enable you to stay happy and stress free.
14. Antibacterial Properties:
An antibacterial protein found in paprika has been found to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria such asSalmonella and E.coli that are often transferred through ingestion. Inclusion of paprika in your diet can inhibit the growth of these harmful bacteria, if not completely stop it.
15. Prevents Scurvy:
Scurvy is a rare disease characterized by swollen and bleeding gums, weak teeth, swollen bones, rapid breathing, jaundice, diarrhoea, depression etc. The major cause of scurvy is deficiency of vitamin C. Paprika is a powerhouse of vitamin C. This vitamin is considered a miracle worker and should be ingested daily to prevent the onset of many diseases, including scurvy. Include paprika in your diet to boost your vitamin C intake.
16. Prevents Anemia:
As stated earlier, paprika contains iron, which is involved in the formation of red blood cells. Besides, the abundant amount of vitamin C in this spice enables the body to absorb iron. In this way, inclusion of paprika in your diet can help prevent anemia.
17. Cardiovascular Benefits:
Vitamin C in paprika provides protection against cardiovascular disease, particularly heart attack and stroke. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that prevents damage by free radicals, reducing the risk of heart disease. Being loaded with minerals like iron, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, it helps to purify your blood and improve heart health.
18. Wound Healing:
Paprika is a good source of vitamin E, which helps in producing red blood cells. It also helps in forming clots in case of cuts and wounds, facilitating quick wound healing.
19. Other Benefits:
Vitamin A in paprika promotes healthy cell development. Certain healthy fats are required in your diet to protect nerve cells while insulating and protecting organs. Lipoproteins are molecules made from fat and proteins that carry cholesterol through the bloodstream. Vitamin E in paprika protects the fat component of lipoproteins. It should be kept in mind that these fats are less likely to cause inflammation that contributes to heart disease. Paprika is rich in vitamins A, E, and K which help in maintaining healthy veins and capillaries.
By now, you must have got a clear idea about what is paprika used for and why you should include this spice in your diet.
Nutritional Value of Paprika:
The paprika nutritional benefits are primarily due to the presence of a rich array of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and an exceptionally high level of carotenoids. Its detoxifying, anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, and medicinal properties come from its rich content of vitamins C, K, E, A and B complex. Minerals like calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and iron as well as small amounts of fiber, natural sugar and carbohydrates provide protein, energy and healthy fats. It is also a good source of phytosterols. The table given below explains the in-depth nutritional profile of this mild spice.
Amount of Paprika: 1 tsp (Total Weight of Paprika: 2g)
Calories and Fat:Paprika contains just 19 calories and less than 1 gram of fat.
Vitamin A:Being loaded with carotenoids, paprika is rich in vitamin A. A tablespoon of paprika provides about 3349 international units of vitamin A which is more than 100% of the daily recommended intake of this vitamin.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E plays a crucial role in blood health. Paprika is an excellent source of vitamin E with 1 tablespoon contributing 13.5 % of the recommended daily intake of this vitamin E.
Vitamin B6: B vitamins play an important role in breaking down fats and proteins and converting carbohydrates to glucose. Among the B vitamins, paprika is particularly rich in vitamin B6 with 1 tablespoon of this spice providing 11.2 % of the daily recommended intake.
Iron:Iron is an important mineral in paprika. A teaspoon of paprika pepper provides 6% and 3% of the recommended daily intake of iron for men and women respectively.
Carotenoids:The rich color of paprika comes from the abundant amount of carotenoids contained in it. A serving of 1 tablespoon paprika provides 1.3 mg of lutein and zea-xanthin contributing 11% of the recommended daily intake.
I am sure the above benefits have made you realize that paprika is not just another ingredient for your food and cosmetics! Next time you are out shopping for spices, be sure to add a pack of paprika to your cart!
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