Paprika facts and uses in cooking

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Paprika Quick Facts
Name: Paprika
Colors Red, orange, yellow, green, brown, purple, black
Shapes Bell-shaped
Taste Sweet to smoky to spicy to savory
Calories 19 Kcal./cup
Major nutrients Vitamin A (23.86%)
Iron (18.00%)
Vitamin E (13.20%)
Vitamin B6 (11.23%)
Vitamin B2 (6.46%)
Health benefits Great source of antioxidants, Treat autoimmune condition, Treatment for cancer, Diabetic treatment, Eye health
Paprika is a red powder which is made from grinding dried sweet red peppers. It is used for seasoning and to garnish. Its color differs from bright orange-red to deep red that depends on the peppers used. Seeds are discarded from pods, pods dried and then grounded. As pods are tough, assorted grindings are essential for producing powder with proper texture.

Commercially paprika comes from Spain, California, South America and Hungary. There are six types of paprika in Hungary that ranges from delicate to hot. In order to maintain stronger taste of the expectation of consumers, spice companies may add cayenne to heat up Hungarian paprika. Paprika is also used to add color. When heated, paprika releases its flavor and color.

Capsicum plants have bell shaped fruit with variety of names that depends on type and place. In European countries, it is called paprika and is also referred by its color. The Dutch words “gele paprika” and “groene paprika” refers yellow and green fruits respectively. But in Polish, Hungarian German, Korean and Japanese, the term “paprika” is used for either the fruits of bell pepper or even hot pepper.

Sometimes, the word paprika is used for pungent and hot spices which are made from hot peppers. This seasoning is used for adding color and flavor to many dishes particularly Hungarian cuisine. It provides exclusive culinary experience and when it is prepared by drying the fruits naturally instead of high heat of commercial preparations, it provides a great source of Vitamin C. Generally, the paprika spice ranges from deep blood-red to bright orange-red in color and the spice is tended to be mild. Nevertheless, hot and more pungent forms of spice are known as paprika is known, although the hot varieties are not made from bell peppers but chili peppers.

History

Red paprika is originated in Southern Mexico, Antilles Island and Central America where Native Americans used it for seasoning and healing. Returned from New World, Christopher Columbus with unknown spices and with never seen before bell pepper plants. The word “bell pepper” is one of various names for fruits of Capsium annuum species of plant species. The deluded name pepper was given by Christopher Columbus at the time of bring back the plant to Europe. Peppercorns were highly rewarded condiment at that time.

Firstly, plants were used for decorating baroque gardens of nobility in Europe. In Turkey, plant arrived by trade routes. It came to Hungary from through Balkans. In second half of sixteenth century, Margit Szechy, a noble Hungarian lady, kept the plant in her garden in Hungary. Firstly, paprika was used to cure intermittent fever. Later, it was used as a spice in Hungarian cooking.

Health Benefits of Paprika

Here are some health benefits of Paprika:

  1. Great source of antioxidants

Paprika is loaded with antioxidants. The products made peppers are used to counteract diseases as it is able to counteract oxidative stress. Carotenoid found varies in various types of paprika and helps to counteract disease. The nutrients are fat soluble and they are absorbed best when eaten with healthy fat source such as avocado. Paprika has carotenoids such as beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-carotene and lutein. Beta cryptoxanthin helps to reduce inflammation due to arthritis. Zeaxanthin and lutein are helpful for eye health and to counteract molecules that cause damage leading macular degeneration.

  1. Treat autoimmune condition

Study shows that capsaicin in chili peppers is helpful for autoimmune conditions. The symptoms affect skin, brain, lungs, mouth, thyroid, sinus, muscles, joints, gastrointestinal functions and adrenals. The study conducted on 2016 shows that capsaicin stimulate biological reactions which is consistent with treating autoimmune diseases.

  1. Treatment for cancer

Spicy paprika has capsaicin which is used for treating one type of disease. It has the potential to prevent or treat cancer. Capsaicin is responsible to alter signaling pathways which limits the growth of cancer and also suppress genes that tell tumors to increase in size. Paprika is helpful for preventing gastric cancer. Study on 2012 shows that gastric cancer is the second most common cancer worldwide and the second most cause of cancer related deaths. Capsaicin provides anti-inflammatory benefits on gastric cancer.

  1. Diabetic treatment

Paprika is the nutrient rich foods and spices which has the potential to regulate the level of blood sugar and also assist to treat diabetes. The diabetic patients when consumed capsaicin, it assist digestion and also processing of sugars in blood. The supplement of capsaicin lowers the chances of women with diabetes to birth babies too large for gestational ages.

  1. Eye health

This spice contains high antioxidants such as lutein, vitamin A and zeaxanthin which clears that paprika is helpful to prevent eye related diseases. Besides these nutrients, Vitamin B6 also keeps eyes healthy. People with high intake of B6 reduce the chances of macular degeneration and also eye associated disease when consumed with high amount of folate.

  1. Heart health

Paprika helps to maintain cardiovascular system and heart health. Vitamin B6 reduces high blood pressure and also treats damaged blood vessels. It treats anemia by forming hemoglobin in blood responsible for transporting oxygen through bloodstream. It has capsanthin which is a main carotenoid in spice. Capsanthin found in paprika promotes good cholesterol level that helps to maintain cardiovascular health.

  1. Reduce hair fall

Paprika is a great source of Vitamin B6 that helps to prevent hair loss. Paprika has sufficient amount of iron that facilitates transfer of oxygen to hair follicles. It promotes growth of hair by boosting circulation to scalp.

  1. Maintain hair color

Paprika has Vitamin B6 which is engaged in melanin production that is a pigment which imparts color to the hair. Add sweet paprika powder to henna to make known a reddish tint to hair while coloring. Do a patch test before using it on scalp to avoid an allergic reaction.

Traditional uses

  • The people with cold feet could cut up paprika and put it in socks to keep the feet warm.
  • Gargle with the juice prepared from paprika to treat symptoms of sore throat.
  • It helps to heal nose bleeding by repairing the lining of mucous membranes.
  • When used topically, it is used to promote circulation and lower swelling as well as pain in the joints.
  • In Hungary, paprika was used for curing intermittent fever.

Precautions                                                                                                 

  • Avoid by the people who are allergic to it.
  • Use it in moderate amounts.

How to Eat         

  • It is used in Spanish, Austrian, Indian and Moroccan cuisines.
  • The spice pairs well with chicken, rice, pasta, eggs, fish, potatoes, cottage cheese and cauliflower.
  • It is used as a garnish in deviled eggs and quiche.
  • It is a substitute for thickening sauce and as a natural dye for stews and soups.
  • It could also be smoked.
  • It is available in powder form also.

References:

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Paprika

https://www.myspicer.com/history-of-paprika/

https://www.ecellulitis.com/12-amazing-health-benefits-of-paprika/

https://www.isitbadforyou.com/questions/is-paprika-bad-for-you

https://draxe.com/paprika/

http://www.stylecraze.com/articles/amazing-benefits-of-paprika-for-skin-hair-and-health/#gref

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