Paprika deserves a spot in your spice rack – here’s why
08/04/2021 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
Paprika deserves a spot in your spice rack – here’s why

Paprika is a universal seasoning and a ubiquitous item in spice cabinets worldwide. It is made of a combination of dried sweet and hot peppers from the Capsicum family. Most regular paprika comes from Hungary and Spain, but this striking, crimson-colored powder can also be made of peppers from South America.

Paprika is extremely versatile. It is often used to add color to foods and give more flavor to proteins, stews, soups and vegetables. Plus, paprika packs a punch in terms of nutrition because it contains many essential nutrients, as well as potent antioxidants.

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Here’s exactly what paprika can do for you:

1. It maintains good vision.

If you want to maintain good vision in later life, spice up your foods with paprika. Paprika contains zeaxanthin, lutein and beta-carotene. As antioxidants, these compounds work to protect your eyes from damage and age-related eye conditions, such as macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma.

2. It aids in digestion.

One big benefit to incorporating paprika into your meals is that it helps your system digest food more easily. Paprika is thought to do that by stimulating the secretion of gastric acid, which helps break down food.

3. It helps control blood sugar levels.

Certain varieties of paprika, particularly the spicy ones, contain capsaicin. This is the active compound responsible for the tongue-numbing feel of chili peppers. Eating peppers with capsaicin helps raise blood levels of insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar.

4. It promotes healthy circulation.

Paprika contains potassium, an essential mineral known for widening blood vessels for better circulation. In turn, better circulation can lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Paprika also contains iron, which carries oxygen throughout your body. Without sufficient iron, you’re more likely to become fatigued and develop anemia, which can affect everything from immunity to brain function.

5. It improves sleep quality.

Add a pinch of paprika to your dinner for a good night’s sleep. Paprika contains vitamin B6, which supports your body’s natural production of melatonin. Also known as the “sleep hormone,” melatonin is responsible for regulating your sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin can also ease stress and promote calmness and relaxation.

Recipe for garlic and paprika chicken

Paprika is often used as a seasoning for foods like hummus, rice bowls and deviled eggs. It is also typically used in spice blends, dry rubs, marinades, sauces, stews and meat dishes.

Take note that not all paprika is created equal. If a jar of the spice is just labeled “paprika,” then that’s “regular” paprika. Regular paprika is not especially sweet or hot, so it’s a safe choice if you don’t want to make your dishes too spicy.

Some recipes may call for smoked paprika, which is also known as pimento or smoked Spanish paprika. Made from peppers that are smoked and dried over oak fires, this paprika has a richer, smokier flavor than the regular kind.

If you want to try using paprika in your cooking, give this garlic and paprika chicken recipe a go.

Ingredients:

  • 3 skinless chicken drumsticks
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 Tablespoon oregano, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Ground black pepper
  • Salt

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  2. In a skillet, heat the oil and add garlic, paprika, pepper flakes, parsley and oregano. Cook for 1 minute.
  3. Pat the drumsticks dry with paper towels, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the drumsticks in a baking dish. Pour the hot olive oil mixture over the drumsticks.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve with a side of salad greens or baked beans.

Paprika is a peppery spice rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Its striking red color and intriguing flavor add character to savory dishes. Paprika has also been linked to impressive health benefits. Incorporate paprika into your cooking today.

Sources:

FoodsForBetterHealth.com

Pubs.ACS.org

JoCooks.com

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