Paprika is a spice made from the dried peppers of the plant Capsicum annum.
It comes in sweet, smoked, and hot varieties, as well as a variety of colours, 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.
Paprika is packed with micronutrients and beneficial compounds, with 1 tablespoon (6.8 grams) providing :
Protein: less than 1 gram
Fat: less than 1 gram
Carbs: 4 grams
Fibre: 2 grams
Vitamin A: 19% of the Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin E: 13% of the DV
Vitamin B6: 9% of the DV
Iron: 8% of the DV
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.
The main antioxidants in paprika belong to the carotenoid family and include beta carotene, capsanthin, zeaxanthin, and lutein.
2. May promote healthy vision
Paprika contains several nutrients that may boost eye health, including vitamin E, beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
In particular, lutein and zeaxanthin, which act as antioxidants, may prevent damage to your eyes.
3. May reduce inflammation
Certain varieties of paprika, especially hot ones, contain the compound capsaicin.
Therefore, it may protect against a variety of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, including arthritis, nerve damage, and digestive issues.
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.
Still, specific research on paprika is needed.
4. May improve your cholesterol levels
Paprika may benefit your cholesterol levels.
In particular, capsanthin, a carotenoid in this popular spice, may raise levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, which is associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
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.
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.
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.
5. May have anticancer effects
Numerous compounds in paprika may protect against cancer.