Paprika is a favorite spice in Hungarian cuisine, and all over the world. This red spice—made by grinding peppers into a fine powder—doesn’t only benefit your taste buds, but your health as well. Fruits and vegetables contain essential phytonutrients which are beneficial to your health, and paprika is no exception. Carotenoids found in paprika include beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids and antioxidants are crucial for healthy cell protection and regeneration, and for fighting off free radicals—harmful toxins which cause disease—throughout the body.
Chronic inflammation plagues millions of people all over the world, and the leading cause is diets that are lacking in nutrients and are high in processed foods. Chronic inflammation can cause general symptoms, like fatigue, inability to lose weight, digestive problems, high blood glucose levels, allergy symptoms, and skin problems among others. Inflammation is behind many diseases and medical conditions such as allergies, asthma, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to name a few. Paprika contains antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress in the body. The less oxidative stress in the body, the less inflammation there will be, and the lower the chance of developing an inflammatory disease, like the ones mentioned above.
One of the nutrients which paprika boasts is a compound called capsaicin, found in red and chili peppers. Research shows that capsaicin has potent anti-cancer benefits. It has been shown to alter the expression of genes involved in cancer cell survival, stop cancer cells from growing, and alter the process of angiogenesis and metastasis. Capsaicin has been shown effective in treating prostate cancer, bone cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, gastric cancer, and other types of cancer.
It May help to treat diabetes
Capsaicin may contain blood-sugar regulating abilities. In one study, women with gestational diabetes were given capsaicin-containing chili supplementation to see how it affected their blood glucose, lipid metabolism, and pregnancy outcomes. The women in the capsaicin group had significantly improved cholesterol, blood sugar, and insulin levels. They also had decreased incidence of large-for-gestational-age newborns.
Improves eye health
Paprika is an excellent source of nutrients that are essential to eye health. Vitamin A and carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin all work as antioxidants to protect the eyes from damage and diseases such as macular degeneration. Foods and spices which contain lutein and zeaxanthin may even improve vision in people who already have macular degeneration. These antioxidants protect the eyes from all types of damage associated with harmful UV rays and pollutants among other things.
Treats skin problems
Including paprika in your diet may help to improve all types of skin conditions including acne, age spots, freckles, and more. Paprika contains nutrients that are beneficial for the skin by improving cell health and promoting healthy cell regeneration. The vitamin A in paprika helps to maintain a healthy complexion and prevent wrinkles. You can prepare yourself a face mask using paprika and honey for an even skin tone and to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Protects the heart
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three adults in the US has hypertension—or high blood pressure. Hypertension increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Capsaicin has been proven to reduce inflammation all over the body. Including in the blood vessels, which means that it has blood pressure lowering capabilities. Also, paprika is an excellent source of vitamin B6, which helps to reduce blood pressure and repair damaged blood vessels. Preventative measures—such as eating nutrient-rich foods and spices, like paprika—are the best ways to keep a healthy heart.
Has antibacterial properties
Paprika possesses antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. It can fight off harmful bacteria which may have found their way into your body’s digestive system, such as Salmonella and E. Coli.
Paprika is a stimulant. When consumed, it boosts saliva and stomach acid production, improving digestion. It can also reduce symptoms of indigestion, such as heartburn, bloating, abdominal pain, excessive gas, and nausea.
Paprika contains iron, an essential mineral vital for blood production. About 70 percent of the iron we consume goes to our red blood cells. Our hemoglobin is responsible for transferring oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. People with iron deficiencies can become anemic. They may experience symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, pale skin, and leg cramps. Paprika comes in a variety of flavors including:
- Regular Paprika, which has a very mild flavor and is an excellent garnish.
- Sweet Paprika, is made from bright, sweet red peppers, and has a fruity flavor.
- Smoked Paprika. These peppers are dried and smoked for a BBQ-like flavor. This can instantly add a smokey flavor to any dish.
- Hot Paprika, which is similar to cayenne pepper and can be added to any dish for a little kick.