8 Science-Backed Benefits of Paprika
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.
1. Loaded With Nutrients
Paprika is packed with micronutrients and beneficial compounds, with 1 tablespoon (6.8 grams) providing (1):
- Calories: 19
- Protein: less than 1 gram
- Fat: less than 1 gram
- Carbs: 4 grams
- Fiber: 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 (2Trusted Source).
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.
2. May Promote Healthy Vision
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 (9Trusted Source).
Another study in 4,519 adults likewise noted that higher intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin were associated with a decreased risk of AMD (8Trusted Source).
Nutrients in paprika, particularly lutein and zeaxanthin, have been linked to better eye health and a lower risk of cataracts and AMD.
3. May Reduce Inflammation
In a study in 376 adults with gastrointestinal diseases, capsaicin supplements helped prevent stomach inflammation and damage (17Trusted Source).
Another study in rats revealed that 10 days of capsaicin supplements decreased inflammation associated with an autoimmune nerve condition (18Trusted Source).
Still, specific research on paprika is needed.
The anti-inflammatory compound capsaicin in paprika may treat pain and fight inflammation associated with a variety of conditions, though more studies are necessary.
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 (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source, 21).
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 (20Trusted Source).
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 (22Trusted Source).
Nonetheless, more extensive research is needed.
Studies suggest that carotenoids in paprika may help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol, thus improving heart health.
5. May Have Anticancer Effects
Numerous compounds in paprika may protect against cancer.
Several paprika carotenoids, including beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, have been shown to fight oxidative stress, which is thought to increase your risk of certain cancers (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
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 (25Trusted Source).
What's more, capsaicin in paprika may inhibit cancer cell growth and survival by influencing the expression of several genes (26Trusted Source).
However, more extensive research is needed on this spice's anticancer potential.
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.
6. May Improve Blood Sugar Control
The capsaicin in paprika may help manage diabetes.
That's because capsaicin may influence genes involved in blood sugar control and inhibit enzymes that break down sugar in your body. It may also improve insulin sensitivity (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source).
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 (30Trusted Source).
Still, further research is necessary.
The capsaicin in paprika may help decrease blood sugar and insulin levels, which could be particularly advantageous for people with diabetes.
7. Important for Healthy Blood
Paprika is rich in iron and vitamin E, two micronutrients vital for healthy blood.
Iron is a crucial part of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that helps carry oxygen throughout your body, while vitamin E is needed to create healthy membranes for these cells (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source).
Therefore, deficiencies in either of these nutrients may lower your red blood cell count. This can cause anemia, a condition marked by fatigue, pale skin, and shortness of breath (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source).
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 (34Trusted Source).
What's more, animal studies suggest that vitamin E is highly effective at repairing damage to red blood cells — and that deficiency in this vitamin may lead to anemia (35Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source).
Paprika is high in iron and vitamin E, both of which help create healthy red blood cells and may work to stave off anemia.
8. Easy to Add to Your Diet
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.
The three varieties of paprika — sweet, hot, and smoked — can be added to meat rubs, soups, eggs, beans, rice, and many other dishes.
The Bottom Line
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.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
By Dana M Bergstrom, Euan Ritchie, Lesley Hughes and Michael Depledge
In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were "on a collision course." Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a "safe space to operate." These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.
The Good and Bad News<p><span>Ecosystems consist of living and non-living components, and their interactions. They work like a super-complex engine: when some components are removed or stop working, knock-on consequences can lead to system failure.</span></p><p>Our study is based on measured data and observations, not modeling or predictions for the future. Encouragingly, not all ecosystems we examined have collapsed across their entire range. We still have, for instance, some intact reefs on the Great Barrier Reef, especially in deeper waters. And northern Australia has some of the most intact and least-modified stretches of savanna woodlands on Earth.</p><p><span>Still, collapses are happening, including in regions critical for growing food. This includes the </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/importance-murray-darling-basin/where-basin" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Murray-Darling Basin</a><span>, which covers around 14% of Australia's landmass. Its rivers and other freshwater systems support more than </span><a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/latestproducts/94F2007584736094CA2574A50014B1B6?opendocument" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30% of Australia's food</a><span> production.</span></p><p><span></span><span>The effects of floods, fires, heatwaves and storms do not stop at farm gates; they're felt equally in agricultural areas and natural ecosystems. We shouldn't forget how towns ran out of </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/issues-murray-darling-basin/drought#effects" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">drinking water</a><span> during the recent drought.</span></p><p><span></span><span>Drinking water is also at risk when ecosystems collapse in our water catchments. In Victoria, for example, the degradation of giant </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/logging-must-stop-in-melbournes-biggest-water-supply-catchment-106922" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mountain Ash forests</a><span> greatly reduces the amount of water flowing through the Thompson catchment, threatening nearly five million people's drinking water in Melbourne.</span></p><p>This is a dire <em data-redactor-tag="em">wake-up</em> call — not just a <em data-redactor-tag="em">warning</em>. Put bluntly, current changes across the continent, and their potential outcomes, pose an existential threat to our survival, and other life we share environments with.</p><p><span>In investigating patterns of collapse, we found most ecosystems experience multiple, concurrent pressures from both global climate change and regional human impacts (such as land clearing). Pressures are often </span><a href="https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1365-2664.13427" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">additive and extreme</a><span>.</span></p><p>Take the last 11 years in Western Australia as an example.</p><p>In the summer of 2010 and 2011, a <a href="https://theconversation.com/marine-heatwaves-are-getting-hotter-lasting-longer-and-doing-more-damage-95637" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">heatwave</a> spanning more than 300,000 square kilometers ravaged both marine and land ecosystems. The extreme heat devastated forests and woodlands, kelp forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs. This catastrophe was followed by two cyclones.</p><p>A record-breaking, marine heatwave in late 2019 dealt a further blow. And another marine heatwave is predicted for <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/24/wa-coastline-facing-marine-heatwave-in-early-2021-csiro-predicts" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this April</a>.</p>
What to Do About It?<p><span>Our brains trust comprises 38 experts from 21 universities, CSIRO and the federal Department of Agriculture Water and Environment. Beyond quantifying and reporting more doom and gloom, we asked the question: what can be done?</span></p><p>We devised a simple but tractable scheme called the 3As:</p><ul><li>Awareness of what is important</li><li>Anticipation of what is coming down the line</li><li>Action to stop the pressures or deal with impacts.</li></ul><p>In our paper, we identify positive actions to help protect or restore ecosystems. Many are already happening. In some cases, ecosystems might be better left to recover by themselves, such as coral after a cyclone.</p><p>In other cases, active human intervention will be required – for example, placing artificial nesting boxes for Carnaby's black cockatoos in areas where old trees have been <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/factsheet-carnabys-black-cockatoo-calyptorhynchus-latirostris" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">removed</a>.</p><p><span>"Future-ready" actions are also vital. This includes reinstating </span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/a-burning-question-fire/12395700" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultural burning practices</a><span>, which have </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/australia-you-have-unfinished-business-its-time-to-let-our-fire-people-care-for-this-land-135196" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">multiple values and benefits for Aboriginal communities</a><span> and can help minimize the risk and strength of bushfires.</span></p><p>It might also include replanting banks along the Murray River with species better suited to <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/my-garden-path---matt-hansen/12322978" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">warmer conditions</a>.</p><p>Some actions may be small and localized, but have substantial positive benefits.</p><p>For example, billions of migrating Bogong moths, the main summer food for critically endangered mountain pygmy possums, have not arrived in their typical numbers in Australian alpine regions in recent years. This was further exacerbated by the <a href="https://theconversation.com/six-million-hectares-of-threatened-species-habitat-up-in-smoke-129438" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2019-20</a> fires. Brilliantly, <a href="https://www.zoo.org.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zoos Victoria</a> anticipated this pressure and developed supplementary food — <a href="https://theconversation.com/looks-like-an-anzac-biscuit-tastes-like-a-protein-bar-bogong-bikkies-help-mountain-pygmy-possums-after-fire-131045" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bogong bikkies</a>.</p><p><span>Other more challenging, global or large-scale actions must address the </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iICpI9H0GkU&t=34s" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">root cause of environmental threats</a><span>, such as </span><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-018-0504-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">human population growth and per-capita consumption</a><span> of environmental resources.</span><br></p><p>We must rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero, remove or suppress invasive species such as <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mam.12080" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">feral cats</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-buffel-kerfuffle-how-one-species-quietly-destroys-native-wildlife-and-cultural-sites-in-arid-australia-149456" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">buffel grass</a>, and stop widespread <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-reduce-fire-risk-and-meet-climate-targets-over-300-scientists-call-for-stronger-land-clearing-laws-113172" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">land clearing</a> and other forms of habitat destruction.</p>
Our Lives Depend On It<p>The multiple ecosystem collapses we have documented in Australia are a harbinger for <a href="https://www.iucn.org/news/protected-areas/202102/natures-future-our-future-world-speaks" target="_blank">environments globally</a>.</p><p>The simplicity of the 3As is to show people <em>can</em> do something positive, either at the local level of a landcare group, or at the level of government departments and conservation agencies.</p><p>Our lives and those of our <a href="https://theconversation.com/children-are-our-future-and-the-planets-heres-how-you-can-teach-them-to-take-care-of-it-113759" target="_blank">children</a>, as well as our <a href="https://theconversation.com/taking-care-of-business-the-private-sector-is-waking-up-to-natures-value-153786" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">economies</a>, societies and <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-address-the-ecological-crisis-aboriginal-peoples-must-be-restored-as-custodians-of-country-108594" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultures</a>, depend on it.</p><p>We simply cannot afford any further delay.</p><p><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dana-m-bergstrom-1008495" target="_blank" style="">Dana M Bergstrom</a> is a principal research scientist at the University of Wollongong. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/euan-ritchie-735" target="_blank" style="">Euan Ritchie</a> is a professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life & Environmental Sciences at Deakin University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lesley-hughes-5823" target="_blank">Lesley Hughes</a> is a professor at the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-depledge-114659" target="_blank">Michael Depledge</a> is a professor and chair, Environment and Human Health, at the University of Exeter. </em></p><p><em>Disclosure statements: Dana Bergstrom works for the Australian Antarctic Division and is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Wollongong. Her research including fieldwork on Macquarie Island and in Antarctica was supported by the Australian Antarctic Division.</em></p><p><em>Euan Ritchie receives funding from the Australian Research Council, The Australia and Pacific Science Foundation, Australian Geographic, Parks Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC. Euan Ritchie is a Director (Media Working Group) of the Ecological Society of Australia, and a member of the Australian Mammal Society.</em></p><p><em>Lesley Hughes receives funding from the Australian Research Council. She is a Councillor with the Climate Council of Australia, a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists and a Director of WWF-Australia.</em></p><p><em>Michael Depledge does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/existential-threat-to-our-survival-see-the-19-australian-ecosystems-already-collapsing-154077" target="_blank" style="">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
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