The intensely rich, prominently red and slightly smoky, aromatic paprika powder is the secret spice that adds a hint of flavour to many continental recipes from western nations.
But did you know this tasty seasoning can easily be incorporated into routine desi dishes such as dals, soups, sambhars and bhartas too?
Yes, the mellow sweetness of paprika powder combined with an alluring crimson colour, when infused into traditional Indian recipes, suffuses an enhanced zest, making them all the more appetizing.
Paprika powder, although a relatively newer addition to the spice racks in kitchen cabinets of India, is rather a familiar seasoning in many countries in the West, not only for its tempting taste but also the high nutrient value and several health benefits it offers.
Read on, to know more about how paprika powder is prepared and its marvellous incentives for physical and mental wellbeing.
How Is Paprika Powder Made?
Paprika powder is obtained by crushing dried capsicum fruits (bell peppers) into a fine blend, for smooth-textured red dust.
The sweeter tasting variants of the Capsicum annum plant are used in making paprika powder. They are either sun-dried or dehumidified in processing units, to remove all moisture content. These desiccated fruits are then pounded to extract a refined residue known as paprika powder.
Paprika powder is available in distinct shades of red, depending on increasing levels of piquancy, in many European nations, ranging from mildly-flavoured light orange to medium spicy vivid red and fiery hot yellowish-brown.
Nutritional Value Of Paprika Powder:
The nutritional profile of paprika powder is indeed impressive, as this fiery condiment is very low in calories and completely devoid of sodium and cholesterol. It also contains no saturated fats and is laden with vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6 and vitamin E, which have valuable therapeutic and antioxidant properties.
Paprika is also proficient in vital minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc. Furthermore, it is overflowing with the goodness of beneficial cytoprotective polyphenolic compounds like flavonoids, catechins, rutin, tannins and anthocyanins. Also Read: 5 Essential Antioxidants To Add To Regular Diet For Enhanced Overall Health
Health Benefits Of Paprika Powder:
Paprika possesses significant stimulant properties, that can trigger stomach acid secretions, regulating appetite and thereby, reducing untimely cravings for junk food. By promptly enabling salivary glands to digest food, paprika aids in preventing obesity and diabetes. Furthermore, it facilitates the movement of processed and unprocessed food particles through the gut, reducing the occurrence of constipation. Paprika also decreases the chances of intestinal disorders like inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis.
Bolsters Defense Functions
Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, is present in noteworthy quantities in paprika and it plays a key role in ensuring optimal immunity in the body. Paprika also provides the potent antioxidant rutin, which inherently holds anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activity, thus aiding in combating infections. Adding a pinch of paprika powder to staple dishes like dal and soups can greatly boost the system’s defence mechanism and keep cough, cold and fever at bay.
Heals And Enhances Skin
Paprika is imbued with ample amounts of the crucial trace mineral zinc, which is involved in collagen synthesis and therefore assists in wound healing of damaged tissues. In addition, paprika also provides powerful antioxidants known as catechins that are highly effective in slowing down ageing and rejuvenating the texture of the skin. Moreover, the presence of beta carotene in this spice minimizes the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and age spots, to confer youthful, glowing and super-smooth skin.
Intrinsically loaded with phosphorous, the trace mineral essential for maintaining bone shape and rigidity, paprika powder fortifies the connective tissues in the body. A regular intake of a dash of this spice in the diet also prevents severe bone ailments like osteoporosis and arthritis. Phosphorous also controls the calcium absorption in teeth tissues, hence reinforcing gums and jawbones. Also Read: Tremendous Calcium Boosters: Refreshing Smoothie Recipes For Healthy Bones And Joints
Shields Nervous System
The potent plant-based antioxidants in paprika confer some beneficial neuroprotective traits to the brain cells in the body. The anthocyanin class of phenolic compounds protect the neurons – the specialised cells in the brain, from damage and any injury. Thus, paprika powder in routine meals is very advantageous in reducing the occurrence of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
Augments Heart Function
Blessed with generous doses of vitamin E and omega-3-fatty acids, paprika powder significantly diminishes the levels of bad LDL cholesterol as well as triglycerides in the bloodstream. Moreover, paprika can also lower blood pressure and ease the tension in the arteries, thereby preventing severe cardiac ailments like atherosclerosis. This is owing to its anthocyanin antioxidant content.
The polyphenolic class of antioxidants in paprika is exceptionally useful in averting the occurrence of cancers. These compounds function by eliminating harmful free radicals from oxidising the healthy cells in vital organs in the body such as kidney, liver and bones, thereby conferring the system with valuable cytoprotective traits. This, in turn, prevents healthy cells from entering into an uncontrolled proliferative mechanism, thereby stopping cancer.
Promotes Visual Functions
Paprika powder abounds in vitamin A-related phytonutrients known as carotenoids and hence, adding just a pinch of this seasoning to salads, soups and dals confers immense merits for eye health. The richness of lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene in this hot-flavoured spice uplifts the operations of the optic nerve, retina, cornea, eye lens and other eye organelles, as well as lowers the risk of acquiring age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts.
Improves Blood Circulation
Blessed with ample amounts of iron, the vital trace mineral essential for the formation of new, healthy red blood cells, paprika ensures the transport of oxygen and key nutrients to other organs in the body. Moreover, paprika also supplies vast quantities of vitamin C, that amplifies iron absorption by tissues and thus iron-deficiency condition of anaemia, which causes severe fatigue, lethargy and decline in mental health, is effectively prevented.
Paprika powder comprises copious levels of vitamin B6 or pyridoxine, which is a potent nutrient that positively influences neurological functions and regulates brain activity. It assists in the synthesis of melatonin, which is the hormone that induces sleep, thereby treating insomnia and promoting undisturbed resting cycles at night. Including a dash of paprika powder to staple dinner meals of curries, salads, helps conserve neurotransmitter activity of serotonin, which elevates moods and alleviates stress, depression.
Besides providing a vibrant, appealing crimson shade to gravies and soups and a wonderful flavour to dishes, paprika powder also supplies numerous benefits for overall health. Thanks to its intrinsically low-calorie value, cholesterol and saturated fat content, as well as vast reserves of beneficial antioxidants, essential vitamins and minerals, paprika powder can ideally be incorporated into regular meals in tiny amounts, to reap its advantages for wellness.