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What are the health benefits of Paprika ?

What are the health benefits of Paprika ?

Paprika is generally used in various cuisines as a seasoning spice which adds color and flavour. There is no doubt that it is overlooked by most cooks, and the only time it is required is when we have to garnish Potato salad or to enhance color in Chicken etc. But, it is more than just a coloring agent.

Look like: It is a fine red powder made up of grinding dried fruits of a plant called Capsicum annum. It varies from mild Bell Pepper to hot Chilli Pepper. Its color ranges from red to brown and are produced in various shapes.

Origin: Capsicum peppers are native to South America and West Indies. Originally, the tropical paprika was much hotter in taste than now. Over a period of time and due to different climatic conditions, it has ranged from milder and sweeter varieties too.

Paprika is strongly associated with Hungarian cuisines. They used it in dishes like Chicken Paprikash and Goulash. Not only Hungarian, it is associated with Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish dishes in their soups, stews and casseroles, as well to flavour shell fishes. Interesting fact is that its shape varies according to origin area; such as small and round paprika is found in Spain and Morocco while pointed and cone shaped are found in Hungary and California.
In India, it is often used as a garnish to salad, appetizers and eggs.
It is also used in the preparation of Sausages for the same purpose of garnishing and flavouring dishes but the flavour is more gently produced when heated in oil. Paprika is an emulsifier, temporarily when binds with oil and vinegar, it gives a smooth texture for a salad dressing.

Nutrition in Vitamins: Capsicum Pepper used for paprika is rich in Vitamin C, the quantity being more than what Lemon Juice contains. As a matter of fact, Fresh red peppers have more than seven times as much Vitamin C as oranges. But because of advanced methods of drying in the preparation of Paprika, much of the nutrients get lost. It is also high in other antioxidants and an excellent source of betacarotene, which body converts into Vitamin A. It also contains Vitamin E and K, which are essential for physical condition of our veins and capillaries in our body.

Minerals: Talking about their mineral content, paprika has a very rich source of iron and potassium and also has good level of magnesium, phosphorous and potassium. Being a successor of chilli family, it has many of the same therapeutic qualities such as hotter the chilli, higher the content of Capsaicin which is highly beneficial and proves to a medicinal component found in the vegetables.

Nourishment to Heart: Paprika provides nourishment that has a great effect on cardiovascular system; it can improve blood circulation and even helps in normalizing blood pressure. Along with Vitamin C, it is a boon to heart for its healthy benefits. It is an excellent energiser, which is specifically valuable in poor circulation, tiredness, lethargy and depression too. It has an anti-inflammatory property that makes it more helpful medicine as a topical analgesic.

Antibacterial: Paprika has an antibacterial protein that lowers the growth of certain bacterial like Salmonella and E.Coli that are generally transferred through intake of food. A healthy diet that contains paprika may not kill these bacteria but can surely limit their growth.

Other Health Benefits: While Paprika abundantly contains these healthy nutrients, it is not particularly known for its medicinal benefits as a stand-alone spice. However, it does contribute to overall healthy diet when used as a seasoning in dishes. To add more to its positive effects, here are the few health benefits by using paprika in our dishes:
• Prevents cold because of its abundant antioxidants.
• Prevents Scurvy.
• Helps the body to absorb iron which is good for women or those suffering from anaemia.
• Act as a shield against cardiovascular disease such as Heart attack and Stroke.

Caution: All the above benefits of paprika are useless if these are dried with commercial drying process. So while buying paprika, make sure that it has been naturally dried or simply make your own. Paprika deteriorates quickly so it should be bought in small quantities and kept in air tight containers away from sunlight.

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