Paprika is in fact native to Central and South America and the West Indies and was only introduced to the New World by Portuguese and Spanish explorers.
Paprika is made from grinding dried peppers – sweet bell peppers, hot green peppers and everything in between – of the Capsicum anuum family. It is now used worldwide but particularly dominates the spice racks in Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Latin America.
Sweet paprika is the norm in the West though you can find spicier versions if you look hard enough. Ultimately however, the king of all the paprikas and the most revered in culinary circles is smoked paprika. Known as pimenton in Spain, it is prepared by smoking peppers over an oak fire unlike the conventional air drying method. It can also be found as sweet, moderately spicy and spicy versions.
Paprika’s claimed health benefits include:
Anti-inflammatory effects from capsaicin (found in spicy cayenne pepper in larger amounts). Topical application of capsaicin-containing compounds is suggested to relieve arthritic pain.
Stimulation of salivary glands to aid digestion.
Antioxidant effects from the 4 carotenoids found in paprika – beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthine, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Anti-cancer effects due to its high antioxidant content.
Vitamin A from 2 of the 4 carotenoids – beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthine – which is pivotal for good eye and vision development in children. One teaspoon provides a substantial 37% of the daily requirement of vitamin A based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Vitamins E, B-6 and Iron.
We use Paprika in many of our spice blends including