Paprika is a spice made from the dried peppers of the plant Capsicum annuum.
It comes in sweet, smoked, and hot varieties, as well as a variety of colors, such as red, orange, and yellow. Paprika is used worldwide, especially in rice dishes and stews.
It’s not only rich in antioxidants but also vitamins and minerals.
Here are 8 science-backed health benefits of paprika.
Paprika is packed with micronutrients and beneficial compounds, with 1 tablespoon (6.8 grams) providing (1):
Notably, this small amount boasts almost 20% of your daily vitamin A needs.
This spice also contains a variety of antioxidants, which fight cell damage caused by reactive molecules called free radicals.
Free radical damage is linked to chronic illnesses, including heart disease and cancer. As such, eating antioxidant-rich foods may help prevent these conditions (2).
Summary Paprika is rich in several vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In particular, 1 tablespoon (6.8 grams) boasts 19% of your daily needs for vitamin A.
Paprika contains several nutrients that may boost eye health, including vitamin E, beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin (7).
In particular, lutein and zeaxanthin, which act as antioxidants, may prevent damage to your eyes (10).
In a study in over 1,800 women, those with the highest dietary intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin were 32% less likely to develop cataracts than those with the lowest intakes (9).
Another study in 4,519 adults likewise noted that higher intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin were associated with a decreased risk of AMD (8).
Summary Nutrients in paprika, particularly lutein and zeaxanthin, have been linked to better eye health and a lower risk of cataracts and AMD.
Several studies show that topical creams with capsaicin help reduce pain caused by arthritis and nerve damage, but research on capsaicin tablets is more limited (13).
In a study in 376 adults with gastrointestinal diseases, capsaicin supplements helped prevent stomach inflammation and damage (17).
Another study in rats revealed that 10 days of capsaicin supplements decreased inflammation associated with an autoimmune nerve condition (18).
Still, specific research on paprika is needed.
Summary The anti-inflammatory compound capsaicin in paprika may treat pain and fight inflammation associated with a variety of conditions, though more studies are necessary.
Paprika may benefit your cholesterol levels.
One two-week study found that rats fed diets with paprika and capsanthin experienced significant increases in HDL levels, compared with rats on a control diet (20).
The carotenoids in paprika may also help decrease levels of total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, which are linked to an increased risk of heart disease (19).
In a 12-week study in 100 healthy adults, those who took a supplement containing 9 mg of paprika carotenoids per day had significantly lower LDL (bad) and total cholesterol levels than those who got a placebo (22).
Nonetheless, more extensive research is needed.
Summary Studies suggest that carotenoids in paprika may help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol, thus improving heart health.
Numerous compounds in paprika may protect against cancer.
Notably, in a study in nearly 2,000 women, those with the highest blood levels of beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and total carotenoids were 25–35% less likely to develop breast cancer (25).
What’s more, capsaicin in paprika may inhibit cancer cell growth and survival by influencing the expression of several genes (26).
However, more extensive research is needed on this spice’s anticancer potential.
Summary Compounds in paprika, including carotenoids and capsaicin, may block cancer cell growth and fight oxidative stress related to cancer risk. Yet, more studies are necessary.
The capsaicin in paprika may help manage diabetes.
In a 4-week study in 42 pregnant women with diabetes, taking a daily 5-mg capsaicin supplement significantly decreased post-meal blood sugar levels, compared with a placebo (29).
Another 4-week study in 36 adults found that a diet with capsaicin-containing chili pepper significantly decreased blood insulin levels after meals, compared with a chili-free diet. Lower insulin levels typically indicate better blood sugar control (30).
Still, further research is necessary.
Summary The capsaicin in paprika may help decrease blood sugar and insulin levels, which could be particularly advantageous for people with diabetes.
Paprika is rich in iron and vitamin E, two micronutrients vital for healthy blood.
In fact, one study in 200 young women tied low iron intake to a nearly 6-fold increased risk of anemia, compared with adequate intake (34).
Summary Paprika is high in iron and vitamin E, both of which help create healthy red blood cells and may work to stave off anemia.
Paprika is a versatile spice that can be incorporated into a multitude of dishes.
It comes in three main varieties that differ in taste and color based on the cultivation and processing of the pepper.
In addition to its sweetness, sweet paprika has a touch of smokiness. It can be used as a seasoning for meats, potato salad, and eggs.
On the other hand, hot paprika offers a spicier kick and is often added to soups and stews like Hungarian goulash.
Finally, smoked paprika’s sweet, smoky flavor works best with rice, lentil, and bean dishes.
You can also add paprika to simple, everyday meals by sprinkling a dash on hard-boiled eggs, chopped veggies, dips, cooked rice, roasted potatoes, and salads.
While paprika supplements are likewise available, there’s very limited research on their safety and efficacy.
Summary The three varieties of paprika — sweet, hot, and smoked — can be added to meat rubs, soups, eggs, beans, rice, and many other dishes.
Paprika is a colorful spice derived from ground peppers.
It offers a variety of beneficial compounds, including vitamin A, capsaicin, and carotenoid antioxidants. These substances may help prevent inflammation and improve your cholesterol, eye health, and blood sugar levels, among other benefits.
You can add this spice to a variety of dishes, including meats, vegetables, soups, and eggs.
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