Health Benefits of Paprika

by Head Health Nutter on December 7, 2010

Editor’s Note: The holiday parties this month may have you a bit worried about your health and making small talk. If deviled eggs are on the menu and after reading today’s guest post, you’re covered! Read on as Leon Harris tells us about the healthy wonders of paprika.

As you may have guessed, paprika is made from dried and ground up sweet red peppers or chili peppers (capsicum annuum). It is traditionally used in Hungarian and South American cooking, but can now be found in a variety of international cuisines. It also makes for a very pretty garnish on some dishes.

Paprika can range from mild to hot. Aside from providing a tasty addition to otherwise bland dishes, why would you want to use paprika (as opposed to, say, other types of peppers)? In truth, paprika carries with it a number of health benefits that could make it more than just another jar in your spice rack.

Here are a few reasons you may want to add paprika to your diet:

Vitamin C

In fact, the types of peppers generally used to create paprika can have six to nine times the amount of vitamin C found in tomatoes (which is quite a bit). This essential vitamin is best known for:

  • fending off colds (thanks to abundant antioxidants)
  • prevent scurvy (although not a terribly common ailment these days)
  • help the body to absorb iron (great for women or those with anemia)
  • protect against cardiovascular disease (and subsequent symptoms such as heart attack and stroke).

In short, vitamin C is a sort of miracle-worker of the modern diet and should be ingested regularly (since our bodies don’t produce it naturally). In this respect, paprika has already proven its usefulness.

But there’s more.

Antibacterial

Paprika contains an antibacterial protein that has been found to naturally control (by limiting the growth of) certain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that are transferred through ingestion. Considering typical treatment is chemical, paprika may provide an alternate treatment for people poisoned by these particular illness-inducing bacteria (although further testing is necessary).

A diet that includes paprika may not stop these bacteria, but it could slow their growth. Considering the serious illness that often follows ingestion of Salmonella or E. coli, this could greatly affect the severity of the condition.

Stimulating

Paprika is a stimulant that can have a marked effect on the cardiovascular system. It can improve circulation and even help normalize blood pressure. Along with vitamin C, this gives users a double whammy of heart-healthy benefits.

It can also aid in digestion through a boost in saliva and stomach acids (as such, it can also be used to treat indigestion). Interestingly, high doses of paprika may interact with some other medications to cause drowsiness, so if you plan to add it as an herbal supplement to your diet, you may want to first consult a physician.

Important Note

The many healthy benefits of paprika can easily be lost through the wrong processing. Commercially-dried peppers, for instance, are exposed to high heat environments that can easily leach away most of the vitamins and nutrients present.

It is therefore advisable to seek out paprika that has been naturally dried (in the sun), or simply make your own. This way you can be assured of attaining the health benefits that attend this useful spice.

About the Author

Leon Harris writes for Everyday Health where you can find answers to all of your health related questions including information on arthritis and how to treat it.

I was surprised to hear that paprika comes from either the red bell pepper or chili pepper. Since I’ve only tried the mild flavour, knowing it comes in a spicy variety is a bonus! And all those health benefits… Has today’s post convinced you to serve deviled eggs this season?

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