Looking to add a little spice to your life – or your diet? Cayenne pepper may be just what you need. The well-known red pepper adds versatile flavour to your meals and is filled with potent health benefits.“Cayenne peppers are a great edition to a healthy diet”, says certified dietitian Alexis Supan, RD.
What is Cayenne Pepper?
Cayenne peppers are skinny, long peppers with glossy, cherry-red hue. Officially known as Capsicum annum, these strong peppers are members of the Solanaceae family, along with their remote cousins, eggplants, tomatoes, and potatoes. Cayenne peppers are thought to have originated in South America, but as an independent spice has become famous addition to cuisines around the globe.
Cayenne peppers have a hot-but-not-too-hot level of kick. If you like spicy food, you might be familiar with the Scoville scale. This scale measures the heat of a chilli pepper, from non-spicy bell peppers at one end to burn-your-mouth-off Carolina reapers and ghost peppers on the other.
A jalapeno pepper packs about 5,000 Scoville Heat Units, while a Cayenne pepper is more like 30,000 to 50,000. “Cayenne peppers are quite a bit hotter than jalapeno”, says Supan. “Most people wouldn’t go around snacking on raw Cayenne peppers”. Luckily, you can gather the many favours of Cayenne peppers without consuming them like any other fruit. Whether you sprinkle dried and powdered Cayenne pepper into your meals or cook with fresh peppers, there are great reasons to appreciate this special spice.
Rich in Potent Nutrients
Cayenne peppers are a potent source of nutrients. Especially, they are rich in:
“If you can get your hands on fresh Cayenne peppers, you’ll get a lot more vitamins. One fresh pepper has 72% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C and 50% of vitamin A”, Supan explains. “The powdered form does not contain quite as many vitamins as the fresh peppers do. Still, dried Cayenne powder is a good source of vitamin A”, she adds. “In just one teaspoon, you will get 15% of your daily vitamin A.”
And as we all know, vitamin A is an essential nutrient. It plays a significant role in:
- Immune system health,
- Appropriate function of lungs, heart, kidneys and other organs,
The health benefits of Cayenne peppers go well further their vitamin content. Many of their benefits come from capsaicin, the natural component that gives all peppers their spicy kick.
Proven Health Benefits
Provides Beneficial Plant Compounds
“Cayenne peppers are fantastic sources of antioxidants and other plant compounds that protect our cells and promote health,” says Supan. Antioxidants, along with associated components like carteonoid and flavonoid are naturally found in Cayenne plants. These components protect your cells against damage from harmful substances in the environment. They tackle the processes that age your cells to help keep your cells young.
A diet rich in antioxidants can assist, prevent ailments, including certain types of cancers and heart disease. And Cayenne peppers are a specifically potent source of these high-profile components. In one research, researchers compared antioxidant levels in 20 different hot peppers. Cayenne peppers came out on top.
Protects Your Heart
Cayenne peppers can protect your heart health in various ways. There is evidence, for instance, that capsaicin can protect against inflammation in your body. Inflammation plays a role in several different ailments, including heart disease.
Also “Cayenne peppers can keep blood vessels healthy and may help lower blood pressure”, Supan concludes.
Researchers found that people who regularly consumed chilli peppers were 13% less likely to die of heart disease than people who avoided the spicy kinds.
Additionally, researchers found that when people season their meals with Cayenne pepper, they are less likely to reach for the saltshaker. “Salt is not so good for heart health, especially in people with high blood pressure,” Supan says. “Increasing the amount of Cayenne pepper you eat might help you cut back on salt.”
Lots of people connect spicy foods with an upset stomach or heartburn. But for many people, spice can have the opposite impact. Cayenne pepper increases enzyme production and gastric juices in the stomach, which helps you break down food.
There is also evidence that spicy foods like Cayenne peppers can promote the good bacteria in your gut. The microbiome is a community of bacteria in your gut that are significant for a healthy immune system. Capsaicin may assist boost a healthy microbiome.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Cayenne peppers may help with weight loss. Spicy foods can speed up the metabolism a bit, helping to burn calories. It can also assist you feel fuller after eating. “The effect isn’t enough to overcome an unhealthy diet,” Supan warns, “but as part of a nutritious eating plan, spicy foods may suppress appetite and help with weight loss”.
Additionally, a flavourful, spicy diet tends to be more fulfilling. And when you are satisfied, you are less likely to reach for not-so-healthy snacks and foods. “People who use strong flavours and add a lot of spices like Cayenne peppers are often happier with their diets”, Supan expresses. “People who enjoy these flavourful herbs and spices typically eat well overall.”
Ease Pain and Clear Congestion
Cayenne peppers are good for an achy head. One research proved that when you are stuffed up, Cayenne peppers can help clear the congestion. Cayenne peppers have also been shown to assist relieve headaches. Moreover, creams made from this great spice can be rubbed on your skin to aid arthritis pain.
How to Use Cayenne Pepper?
Powdered or fresh, Cayenne pepper is a potent addition to your diet. One of the good things about Cayenne is that, unlike a lot of other spices, it seems to blend with every type of cuisine. It is used in dishes from just about every country in the world. It is a fantastic choice for spice novices who are just dipping their toes in the realm of hot peppers. You can sprinkle a bit of powdered spice into just about any food. Just experiment until you find the balance you prefer best. Once you’ve developed a taste for the punchy pepper, there are lots of unique ways to use or consume it.
- Boost Your Coffee: You may like to sprinkle just a bit of Cayenne pepper into your coffee for a kicky pick-up.
- Mexican Hot Chocolate: Stir powdered Cayenne peppers into hot cocoa for a sweet-and-spicy kick that will warm you up on the coldest of days.
- Grab A Pan: If you are trying fresh Cayenne peppers for the first time, sautéing is the most user-friendly process to prepare them. Chop them up, sauté them and add them to a stir fry.
- Go Bold with Raw Peppers: Fresh, raw Cayenne peppers pack the most punch. If you want to thoroughly enjoy their spicy power, try chopping them into small pieces and adding them to homemade salsa. They also make a potent addition to meat marinades.
If you’re new to using hot peppers like Cayenne, it is important to start with a small amount. As these peppers are quite spicy and can easily overpower the flavour of any dish, you don’t want to overdo it.
When working with Cayenne peppers or any other spicy pepper in your kitchen, avoid touching your eyes after handling them. Cayenne peppers may irritate your skin and eyes, so wash your hands completely after touching or chopping them.
However, if you are looking for a new way to add flavour to your food and an admirer of spice, try using powdered or fresh Cayenne pepper in your next recipe. But if spicy foods tend to give you heartburn or upset your stomach, you may want to consult your doctor, dietician, or a healthcare professional before you add this surprisingly nutritious spice to your healthy lifestyle.