Last Updated June 13th, 2021
What is Cayenne pepper?
Cayenne pepper is a moderately spicy chili that gives that tangy sensation and flavor to your dishes. This spice is closely related to jalapeno peppers and bell peppers and is used as a staple ingredient in Southwestern American, Mexican, Cajun, and Creole cuisines.
They belong to the family of capsicum and go by the botanical name “Capsicum annuum”. These peppers are mild in smell but fierce in taste. The cayenne pepper originated in the regions of Central and Southern America. It was named as cayenne pepper based on the city of Cayenne in French Guiana. Before people got to know its medicinal value and culinary delicacy it was used as an ornament to plate varied dishes.
It was brought to the limelight when Christopher Colombus discovered these fruits during his travel across the Caribbean. He then brought these back to Europe and used it as a substitute for black pepper, as black pepper was very expensive. And nowadays the cultivation of cayenne can be seen in the tropical and subtropical regions of India, Africa, United States of America, and Mexico.
Is cayenne pepper really good for your health?
Cayenne pepper contains an active ingredient called capsaicin. This ingredient is the sole benefactor of the spiciness that the cayenne pepper nurtures. These cayenne peppers are often dried and powdered in order to make them an amiable seasoning. In addition to being used as a powdered ingredient, these cayenne peppers are used wholly in Korean, Sichuan, and other Asian cuisines.
Cayenne peppers consist of several nutrients that help improves various medical conditions. One tablespoon of cayenne pepper contains the following nutritional facts, such as
- Calories: 17 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Carbs: 3 grams
- Fiber: 1.4 grams
- Protein: 0.6 grams
- Vitamin A: 44% of the RDI (Recommended daily intake)
- Vitamin E: 8% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 7% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 6% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 5% of the RDI
- Manganese: 5% of the RDI
- Potassium: 3% of the RDI
- Riboflavin: 3% of the RDI
What are the health benefits of cayenne pepper?
Cayenne pepper is used as a digestive aid
The presence of capsaicin in cayenne pepper helps to stimulate the production of various enzymes in the digestive tract. This stimulation aids digestion and helps soothe intestinal gas problems. Several types of research have proved that the use of cayenne pepper in your diet helps to maintain a healthy metabolic activity in the body.
In addition to, boosting metabolism it also helps to suppress hunger as the capsaicin present in cayenne pepper is a thermogenic chemical (a chemical that produces heat as a result of the conversion of chemical energy of ATP into kinetic energy). This thermogenic effect of cayenne pepper plays a vital role in weight loss and is a go-to food for burning fat. The consumption of cayenne pepper increases the body temperature and as a result, it burns calories.
It is a go-to home remedy for coughs, colds, and congestion. The consumption of cayenne during a cough or cold helps shrink the blood vessels in the nose and throat. The commonly used home remedy combines 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of water to be taken by the teaspoon.
Some people even mix cayenne pepper and apple cider vinegar into hot tea to clear the sinuses. So next time if your suffering from sinus congestion try cayenne pepper as it thins the mucus and stimulates the sinuses. The ingredient capsaicin has also proved to have beneficial effects on rhinitis (an allergic response causing itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and other similar symptoms); rhinitis is associated with symptoms like postnasal drip and nasal congestion. It also aids in treating the congestion caused by bronchitis.
Cayenne pepper and detoxification
Proper detoxification can be like a restarting button to begin a healthy lifestyle. It helps your system to get rejuvenated and regulates the activities of the cells involved in detoxification. The presence of capsaicin in cayenne pepper is well-known for its detoxifying benefits. A detox diet has always enlisted cayenne pepper as one of its vital ingredients. One of the more popular detox diets consists of cayenne pepper and lemon. This diet was developed way back in 1940 by Stanley Burroughs, an alternative health practitioner.
This diet works effectively as it suppresses appetite and promotes the burning of calories and in a way lowers the intake of calories. The agenda for this detox diet was scheduled for 10 days, during which you are supposed to drink 12 glasses of tonic that includes water, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. And care should be taken that no solid foods are consumed during this tenure. You should be getting around 650 to 1,300 calories a day. Here, the weight loss happens very quickly, and you might lose close to 3 pounds a week.
But studies have proved that this diet could cause any harmful effect to the body and hence suggested that cayenne pepper just is added as an ingredient in your normal diet on a daily basis. By doing so, you not only acquire the benefits of cayenne pepper but also experience the detoxifying effect that it offers.
Cayenne pepper and its pain relieving action
Cayenne pepper has a potent property of relieving pain, because of its active ingredient, capsaicin. Capsaicin consists of the capability to reduce the amount of substance P, which is a neuropeptide (protein-like molecules or peptides used by neurons to communicate with each other) compound responsible for transporting pain signals to the brain.
By reducing the amount of substance P, it blocks the brain from receiving the pain signal and gradually initiates a healing process and decrease the pain. The consumption of cayenne pepper can help reduce joint and muscle pain, lower back pain, and pain caused by any ailment. In certain medical conditions such as joint pains, muscle pains, etc, capsaicin is formulated into a cream and used more effectively for the relieving the same.
Boosts your immune system
Cayenne pepper contributes to enhance the defense system in your body and defend it against harmful substances that alter the body’s entire functionality. The antioxidant properties present in cayenne pepper help serve as an enhancement to one’s immunity. The thermogenic effect caused by the intake of cayenne pepper also contributes to strengthening the body’s immune system. In addition, it also prevents infection during an injury as it possesses antibacterial and antifungal properties too.
Helps skin and hair health
The ingredient capsaicin helps reduce inflammation and shows anti-inflammatory properties by soothing skin redness. A paste of one spoon of cayenne pepper with some cocoa powder and half ripened avocado can serve as the best combination to treat acne-induced skin discoloration. In addition, the combination of cayenne pepper with eggs and honey can help strengthen your hair and promote hair growth.
Protects the heart
As already mentioned cayenne pepper improves the health of blood vessels and it plays an efficient role in lowering blood pressure too. So it is definitely a heart-friendly food. By keeping the blood vessels in the heart healthy it promotes the flow of blood and prevents blood clotting and as a result, reduces the risk of myocardial infarction or heart attack.
The ingredient capsaicin clears the deposit of lipids in the narrow arteries and promotes blood circulation. Its heart healing properties were proved by famed natural herbalist Dr. John Christopher. Dr. John is known to restore his patients out of heart attacks just by making them drink warm cayenne water. Cayenne pepper also helps reduce plaque and lower cholesterol. Cayenne pepper breaks down the fibrin network that plays a vital role in holding the plaque and in return it is proved to prevent heart disease associated with diabetes.
Reduces the risk of cancer
Cayenne pepper reduces the risk of cancer by attacking the uncontrollable growth of cancer cells by hindering the cancer growth process. Cayenne pepper consists of active ingredient capsaicin that helps to slow the growth of cancer cells and in certain circumstances cause the death of cancer cells. It is effective for many different types of cancer which include prostate, pancreatic, and skin cancer. Though its cancer-treating effects are being proved on laboratory animals they are yet to prove its potential on human subjects.
The regular consumption of cayenne pepper helps reduce headaches. Cayenne pepper contains an anti-analgesic (a medication that can reduce physical pain) property that possesses the capability to treat headaches effectively.
Cayenne pepper: An “easy to add” ingredient
Cayenne pepper is an easy ingredient that is versatile and can be added as a spice mixture to your curries. It nurtures a spicy flavor that can be used in whole foods, salad dressing, and any favorite savory. It is available as a whole food, spice, and supplement. In order to experience the best of cayenne pepper, care should be taken in choosing the right ones. Always go for ripe cayenne pepper. The ripe ones are usually red or green. They can be stored in an airtight container and avoid exposing them to direct sunlight.
Cayenne Pepper: Possible allergies
Cayenne pepper can cause irritation in certain medical conditions that include, irritation that is persistent in skin, eyes, stomach, throat, and nose. The intake of excess cayenne pepper can lead to kidney or liver damage. It is best to avoid the consumption of cayenne pepper after surgery or during bleeding as it tends to increase bleeding. People under medications related to ACE inhibition should consult their doctor before they try cayenne pepper.
Care should be taken as excessive consumption of cayenne pepper can cause gastrointestinal disorders which are associated with symptoms like irritation or burning sensation in the stomach. If under any circumstances you develop an allergic reaction to cayenne pepper then it is best to limit its use. The intake of cayenne pepper should be limited during summer as it tends to increase the body heat due to its thermogenic properties; overheating of the body can lead to nose bleeding.
Cayenne pepper: Final thoughts
This lip-smacking spice is definitely a go-to ingredient to give your dish a kick of spiciness. The cayenne pepper doesn’t just glorify and decorate your dish but also provides numerous health benefits if consumed properly. The active ingredient capsaicin is used in medical supplements to treat several medical conditions So don’t miss adding that lovely red cayenne pepper to your favorite foods and experience its authenticity along with its healing touch.
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