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Paprika vs. Cayenne Pepper — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Elen Khachatrian by Elen Khachatrian | Last updated on July 21, 2023
Medically reviewed by Astghik Baghinyan Article author photo Astghik Baghinyan
Paprika
vs
Cayenne pepper

Summary

The cayenne pepper spice is derived from cayenne peppers, while paprika is derived from a variety of sweet peppers. Since both are used as spices and seasonings, their serving sizes are very small. Hence, their contribution to your daily macronutrient, vitamin, and mineral content is insignificant

Nevertheless, paprika contains slightly higher levels of Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, and Vitamin B3, while cayenne peppers provide more Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and folate. When it comes to minerals, paprika provides 3 times more iron as well as 2 times more zinc and copper, while cayenne pepper provides slightly more manganese and selenium.

Introduction

This article will discuss the main differences in the nutrition of paprika and cayenne pepper while also focusing on their health impact.

What's the Actual Difference?

The cayenne pepper spice is derived from cayenne peppers, whereas paprika is derived from a variety of sweet peppers.

Cayenne's color range is limited to an orange-red, with slight variations due to the cayenne color when dried and smoked. Cayenne pepper is typically spicier than paprika. Most paprika varieties have a sweet and fruity flavor as well.

Nutrition

In this section, we are going to present the nutritional differences between paprika and cayenne peppers

The serving sizes for both spices are usually about 0.5g-2g, but depending on the dish, you might add more. One teaspoon of cayenne pepper and one teaspoon of paprika is around 2 grams

However, to keep the comparison between the two spices simple, we will sometimes refer to 100-gram servings of each.  

Macronutrients and Calories

As can be seen from the macronutrient comparison charts below, both paprika and cayenne peppers are mostly made of carbs, which make up 54% and 57% of the entire macronutrient compositions, respectively.

Given that the serving sizes for the spices are extremely small, the differences in macronutrients are not relevant in the context of the daily recommended amount of nutrients and calories. However, we will still discuss these differences and similarities.

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Protein +17.7%
Contains more Water +39.6%
Contains more Other +28.1%
Contains more Fats +34%
Equal in Carbs - 56.63
14% 13% 54% 11% 8%
Protein: 14.14 g
Fats: 12.89 g
Carbs: 53.99 g
Water: 11.24 g
Other: 7.74 g
12% 17% 57% 8% 6%
Protein: 12.01 g
Fats: 17.27 g
Carbs: 56.63 g
Water: 8.05 g
Other: 6.04 g
Contains more Protein +17.7%
Contains more Water +39.6%
Contains more Other +28.1%
Contains more Fats +34%
Equal in Carbs - 56.63

Calories

Cayenne pepper and paprika provide similar amounts of calories.

One teaspoon serving of cayenne peppers (1.8 grams) and one teaspoon of paprika (2.3 grams) both provides around 6 calories.      

Per 100-gram serving, cayenne pepper contains 318 calories, while paprika contains 282 calories. 

Fats

One teaspoon of paprika provides around 0.297 grams of total lipid fat, while one teaspoon of cayenne peppers provides around 0.311 grams of total lipid fat.

Per 100-gram servings, the total lipid fats in cayenne pepper equal 17.27g, whereas in paprika, 12.89g.

Both paprika and cayenne pepper contain no cholesterol.

Carbohydrates and Fiber

Cayenne peppers and paprika contain similar amounts of carbs; however, the amount of fiber is 2 times higher in paprika.

The carbohydrate content in these spices is also very similar. One teaspoon serving of paprika (2.3 grams) provides 1.24 grams of carbs and 0.803 grams of fiber, while one teaspoon of cayenne peppers (1.8 grams) provides 1.02 grams and 0.49 grams of fiber.      

Vitamins

Paprika contains slightly higher amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, and Vitamin B3 than cayenne peppers. On the other hand, cayenne peppers provide more Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and folate.

Specifically, the most significant difference found in vitamin content comparison is the differences in amounts of Vitamin C. Cayenne peppers provide around 85 times more Vitamin C than paprika. 

Additionally, both of these spices have equal amounts of Vitamin E, Vitamin B1, and Vitamin K.

Both cayenne peppers and paprika completely lack Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. Moreover, whereas paprika has some levels of Vitamin B5, the vitamin is completely absent in cayenne peppers.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
:
Contains more Vitamin A +18.4%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +33.8%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +15.6%
Contains more Vitamin C +8388.9%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +14.4%
Contains more Folate +116.3%
Equal in Vitamin E - 29.83
Equal in Vitamin B1 - 0.328
Equal in Choline - 51.5
Equal in Vitamin K - 80.3
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 2956% 583% 0% 3% 83% 284% 189% 151% 495% 37% 0% 29% 201%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 2497% 597% 0% 255% 82% 213% 164% 0% 566% 80% 0% 29% 201%
Contains more Vitamin A +18.4%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +33.8%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +15.6%
Contains more Vitamin C +8388.9%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +14.4%
Contains more Folate +116.3%
Equal in Vitamin E - 29.83
Equal in Vitamin B1 - 0.328
Equal in Choline - 51.5
Equal in Vitamin K - 80.3

Minerals

Single servings of these spices do not contribute any significant amounts of minerals to your daily need as well; however, we can still discuss their differences. 

Paprika provides more magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, and copper, while cayenne pepper provides slightly more manganese and selenium.

Specifically, paprika provides 3 times more iron as well as 2 times more zinc and copper.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Contains more Calcium +54.7%
Contains more Iron +171%
Contains more Magnesium +17.1%
Contains more Potassium +13.2%
Contains more Zinc +74.6%
Contains more Copper +91.2%
Contains less Sodium -55.9%
Contains more Manganese +25.8%
Contains more Selenium +39.7%
Equal in Phosphorus - 293
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 69% 793% 128% 135% 202% 9% 119% 238% 208% 35%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 45% 293% 109% 126% 178% 4% 68% 125% 261% 48%
Contains more Calcium +54.7%
Contains more Iron +171%
Contains more Magnesium +17.1%
Contains more Potassium +13.2%
Contains more Zinc +74.6%
Contains more Copper +91.2%
Contains less Sodium -55.9%
Contains more Manganese +25.8%
Contains more Selenium +39.7%
Equal in Phosphorus - 293

Glycemic Index

The estimated glycemic index of cayenne pepper is 32, while for paprika, it is 0. Both are considered low-GI foods.

Acidity

One way to understand the acidity of foods is through their potential renal acid load (PRAL) value, which shows how much acid or base the given food produces inside the organism. 

Based on our calculations, the PRAL values of cayenne peppers and paprika are -31.4 and -36.9, respectively, which means paprika has greater potential to alkalize the body. 

Health Benefits

Diabetes and Cancer

Both paprika and cayenne peppers contain a high amount of capsaicin, which has many health benefits.

Capsaicin was first isolated from chili peppers. It is used to treat psoriasis and diabetic neuropathy as a topical treatment (1).

One study revealed that subjects who ate a cayenne-containing meal had lower blood glucose levels (2). Lower blood insulin levels were also observed, particularly in a subgroup that had eaten a cayenne-rich diet for a month before the test. This suggests that cayenne consumption may improve tissue insulin sensitivity, requiring less insulin to move glucose from the blood to the tissues.

According to another research, capsaicin has antioxidant properties that can help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease while improving immunity (3).

It also may help protect against cellular damage caused by oxidative stress, which is an imbalance in the body's antioxidant defenses and damaging molecules called free radicals.

Cardiovascular Health

A 2019 Italian study of 22,811 adults discovered that regular capsaicin consumption was linked to a lower risk of death from heart disease (4). Some researchers say capsaicin may improve certain aspects of cardiovascular health, including blood vessel function, but more research is needed to confirm this potential benefit. 

Another three-month study discovered that capsaicin significantly reduced the risk factors for heart disease in adults with low HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) (5).

Downsides and Risks

Allergy

Paprika allergy symptoms are usually moderate, but severe paprika allergies can cause anaphylaxis, so if you have a history of food allergies, you should get tested.

Cayenne pepper, also known as capsicum, is a type of red pepper with savory to hot and spicy flavors. Itchiness near and around the mouth, eyes, and other body parts, as well as diarrhea, are common symptoms (6).

Article author photo Elen Khachatrian
Education: Nutrition & Microbiology at YSU
Last updated: July 21, 2023
Medically reviewed by Astghik Baghinyan

Infographic

Paprika vs Cayenne pepper infographic
Infographic link

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains less Saturated Fat -34.4%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +62.2%
Equal in Polyunsaturated fat - 8.37
18% 15% 67%
Saturated Fat: 2.14 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.695 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 7.766 g
23% 19% 58%
Saturated Fat: 3.26 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 2.75 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 8.37 g
Contains less Saturated Fat -34.4%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +62.2%
Equal in Polyunsaturated fat - 8.37

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Paprika Cayenne pepper
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in Glycemic Index ok
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Sugar Equal
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Paprika Cayenne pepper Opinion
Net carbs 19.09g 29.43g Cayenne pepper
Protein 14.14g 12.01g Paprika
Fats 12.89g 17.27g Cayenne pepper
Carbs 53.99g 56.63g Cayenne pepper
Calories 282kcal 318kcal Cayenne pepper
Fructose 6.71g Paprika
Sugar 10.34g 10.34g
Fiber 34.9g 27.2g Paprika
Calcium 229mg 148mg Paprika
Iron 21.14mg 7.8mg Paprika
Magnesium 178mg 152mg Paprika
Phosphorus 314mg 293mg Paprika
Potassium 2280mg 2014mg Paprika
Sodium 68mg 30mg Cayenne pepper
Zinc 4.33mg 2.48mg Paprika
Copper 0.713mg 0.373mg Paprika
Manganese 1.59mg 2mg Cayenne pepper
Selenium 6.3µg 8.8µg Cayenne pepper
Vitamin A 49254IU 41610IU Paprika
Vitamin A RAE 2463µg 2081µg Paprika
Vitamin E 29.1mg 29.83mg Cayenne pepper
Vitamin C 0.9mg 76.4mg Cayenne pepper
Vitamin B1 0.33mg 0.328mg Paprika
Vitamin B2 1.23mg 0.919mg Paprika
Vitamin B3 10.06mg 8.701mg Paprika
Vitamin B5 2.51mg Paprika
Vitamin B6 2.141mg 2.45mg Cayenne pepper
Folate 49µg 106µg Cayenne pepper
Choline 51.5mg 51.5mg
Vitamin K 80.3µg 80.3µg
Tryptophan 0.07mg Paprika
Threonine 0.49mg Paprika
Isoleucine 0.57mg Paprika
Leucine 0.92mg Paprika
Lysine 0.69mg Paprika
Methionine 0.2mg Paprika
Phenylalanine 0.61mg Paprika
Valine 0.75mg Paprika
Histidine 0.25mg Paprika
Saturated Fat 2.14g 3.26g Paprika
Monounsaturated Fat 1.695g 2.75g Cayenne pepper
Polyunsaturated fat 7.766g 8.37g Cayenne pepper
Omega-3 - ALA 0.453g Paprika

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Paprika Cayenne pepper
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet ok

People also compare

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
385%
Paprika
360%
Cayenne pepper
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
193%
Paprika
125%
Cayenne pepper

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Paprika
Paprika is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 1.12g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Paprika
Paprika is lower in glycemic index (difference - 32)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Paprika
Paprika is relatively richer in minerals
Which food contains less Sodium?
Cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper contains less Sodium (difference - 38mg)
Which food is cheaper?
Cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper is cheaper (difference - $0.1)
Which food contains less Sugar?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Sugar (10.34 g)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Paprika - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171329/nutrients
  2. Cayenne pepper - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170932/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.