Paprika is a spice which is made from ground Capsicum annuum peppers. It is made by mixing sweet and hot peppers. It mostly consists of a blend of bell peppers and chilli peppers. Paprika is mild when compared to other peppers like cayenne and chilli. It is less fiery in comparison to these other peppers because it contains lower levels of capsaicin, the compound that gives pepper its burning effect.
Paprika ranges from bright orange red to deep red in color depending on the kind of peppers that have been used to make it. It is mostly used in Hungarian cooking. Furthermore, Hungary boasts of the best quality paprika in the whole world. Other countries which also produce paprika include Spain, Austria, India, Morocco and South American countries. Hungarian paprika is available in different varieties rang-ing from mild to hot. Paprika is mostly used in seasoning. It goes well with dishes like chicken and rices.
The flavor of paprika ranges from mildy sweet to mildly hot. Sweet paprika is made from sweeter varieties of pepper. Most of the seeds are removed from these peppers to make them less hot. Hot paprika on the other hand is made from the entire pep-per.
Benefits of paprika
On top of adding flavor and color to food, paprika offers a number of health and nutritional benefits. These benefits are as follows:
Carotenoids and Vitamin A
Paprika contains carotenoids and this is evident from its red color. It contains four kinds of carotenoids namely beta-cryptoxanthin, beta carotene, zeaxanthin and lute-in. All these carotenoids act as antioxidants. They prevent the formation of free rad-icals which may lead to cell damage thereby causing cancer or other chronic health problems. Lutein and zeaxanthin also prevent macular degeneration.
Beta-cryptoxanthin and beta carotene are converted into Vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for night vision, formation of skin, and growth.
Adding paprika to your food is one way through which you can increase your Vit-amin E intake. A tablespoon of paprika contains 13 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin E. Vitamin E is also an antioxidant, it prevents body fats from being damaged by free radicals. Aside from being an antioxidant, Vitamin E helps in cell repair and in promoting healthy functioning of blood vessels. In addi-tion, it lowers the risk of blood clotting and slows down the process of aging.
A teaspoon of paprika contains 3 percent of women’s daily requirement of iron and 6 percent of men’s daily iron requirement. Iron helps in transportation of oxygen around the body as it forms the heme component in the blood. Oxygen combines with hemoglobin and is transported through the blood to other parts of the body as oxyhemoglobin. Iron also helps in the formation of energy within the cell.
Paprika is a source of Vitamin B6. One teaspoon of paprika gives 4 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 works in combination with enzymes to carry out various biochemical processes in the body. It also supports the production of melatonin which helps maintain a regular sleep pattern and also helps in boosting one’s mood.
Capsaicin the compound found in chilli peppers that causes the burning feeling when one eats pepper. Capsaicin helps in relaxing the blood vessels and this in turn helps in lowering the blood pressure. Capsaicin also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Paprika helps in relieving pain. The anti-inflammatory properties of paprika make it effective in relieving pain. Paprika can be useful in relieving pain due to arthritis and menstrual cramps.