Cayenne and paprika: Two spices that you can easily incorporate into a healthy diet
11/02/2021 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
Cayenne and paprika: Two spices that you can easily incorporate into a healthy diet

The many jars of bright red powders on your spice rack, from bold cayenne pepper to sweet paprika, may blend together in terms of appearance. But each spice brings a unique flavor to any recipe.

Learn how these spices differ and the many ways you can use them to amp up your cooking.

Two spices with fiery benefits

Cayenne pepper is a type of hot pepper that can add heat to any recipe. It is typically sold as a ground powder and can be found in the spice aisle of the grocery store. With its fiery flavor, cayenne pepper is one of the main ingredients in chili sauces and is used in various cuisines, such as Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Indian and Creole.

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Botanically speaking, cayenne pepper is a close relative of jalapenos, bell peppers and many other peppers. Hot peppers like cayenne and sweet peppers like red bell peppers are used to make a spice called paprika. Despite their bright red color, not all paprika powders are spicy. Some paprikas taste sweet or peppery, depending on the peppers used.

When cooking with paprika, it is imperative to know which type of paprika is being used to avoid imbalances of flavor. Sweet paprika, also known as Hungarian paprika, is made mainly from ground red bell peppers. It has a mild flavor, which is why it is used primarily to add color to a recipe.

Hot paprika, or Spanish paprika, on the other hand, is made from ground cayenne peppers or a combination of cayenne peppers and bell peppers. It can have a heat level comparable to other ground red chili peppers.

Meanwhile, smoked paprika is made of smoked cayenne peppers and/or bell peppers. It has a smokier taste compared to sweet and hot paprika.

All three types of paprika can be used as a seasoning for foods like hummus, rice bowls and deviled eggs. Paprika is also typically used in spice blends, dry rubs, marinades, sauces and stews.

Both cayenne pepper and paprika offer various health benefits, such as better digestion, pain relief and healthy blood circulation. Both spices owe most of their benefits to capsaicin, the active compound that gives hot peppers their tongue-numbing feel. Cayenne pepper contains a higher concentration of capsaicin than paprika, which is usually made of both hot and sweet peppers.

But paprika more than makes up for that. It contains many antioxidants in the form of vitamins A and E, lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants protect healthy cells from oxidative stress, which has been implicated in the development of many chronic diseases. Antioxidants also keep inflammation inside your body at bay.

The antioxidants in paprika can also be found in cayenne pepper. If you’re not keen on burning your tongue, you may opt to use sweet or hot paprika instead of cayenne pepper. On the flip side, you may want to opt for cayenne pepper if you’re after the thrill of eating spicy foods.

Adding paprika and cayenne pepper to your diet

Despite their similar appearance, cayenne pepper and paprika work in different ways. Cayenne is very spicy, while paprika has a milder, slightly sweeter taste. As such, they can’t be used interchangeably.

Paprika goes well with most savory foods, including eggs, lean meats and seafood. It also goes well with rice, boiled and steamed vegetables and sauces. For most recipes, paprika is added toward the end of the cooking process since heat can diminish its color and flavor.

Meanwhile, cayenne pepper can be used in a variety of ways:

  • Add a dash of ground cayenne pepper to a soup or stew.
  • Sprinkle ground cayenne pepper or cayenne pepper slices over scrambled eggs, quiches or egg salad.
  • Stir ground cayenne pepper into hummus.
  • Mix cayenne pepper slices with vinegar, onion and lime juice to make a hot dipping sauce.
  • Saute cayenne pepper slices with other ingredients for a stir fry.

You can also make your own versatile mix using cayenne pepper powder, paprika and other spices. Here’s how:

Ingredients for 1/4 cup spice mix:

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons crushed dried oregano
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons crushed dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl until evenly blended.
  2. Store the spice mix in an airtight container.

Cayenne pepper and paprika are fiery spices that pack a powerful punch in terms of nutrition. Enjoy their many health benefits when you incorporate them into your diet.

Sources:

MindBodyGreen.com

UOfMHealth.org

FoodsForBetterHealth.com

AllRecipes.com

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