There are a lot of health benefits of cayenne pepper that make it a fantastic addition to your daily diet. Whether you are a fan of it or not, I’m sure you will be willing to give it a try once you learn some of the best health advantages it offers. You don’t need to switch to a crazy hot eating plan; just sprinkle a tiny bit here and there on your meals and reap the amazing health benefits. Still hesitating? Read on to explore a mysterious world of the popular Guinea spice.
The History of Cayenne Pepper
Having a long history dating back to 7000 B.C., cayenne pepper has been used in both Ayurvedic medicine and cooking for centuries. Being one of the oldest cultivated plants on the planet, the Hunzas in Asia Minor consider cayenne one of the main foods, who live to more than a hundred year – and maybe this hot spice consumption is part of the reasons why he can live till such an old age. Nevertheless, ancient societies, including those of China and America, used cayenne pepper therapeutically to ward off diseases. Ancient people loved spicy foods and there’s a good reason for it.
Cayenne Pepper Nutrition Facts
Here are the nutrition facts of Cayenne Pepper per tablespoon (2 grams).
- Calories – 6
- Fiber – 0.5g – 2% of recommended daily intake (RDI)
- Vitamin A – 15% of RDI
- Vitamin B6 – 2% of RDI
- Vitamin C – 2% of RDI
- Vitamin E – 3% of RDI
- Vitamin K – 2% or RDI
- Protein – 0.2 g
- Riboflavin – 1% of RDI
- Iron – 1% of RDI
- Calcium – 2.6mg
- Phosphorus – 5.1mg
- Magnesium – 2.7mg
- Potassium – 35.2mg
- Phytosterols – 1.5mg
Interesting Facts about Cayenne Pepper
Like any other spice, cayenne pepper has its own secrets that very few of us know. Personally, I know everything about each food in my fridge and pantry, as it inspires me to eat healthier. Here are some of the most wonderful facts to learn about Cayenne Pepper that will hopefully make you reconsider your weekly meal plan:
- It’s originated from South America.
- It’s a kind of chili pepper that has a ton of varieties. Just imagine, more than 140 different types are grown in Mexico alone.
- The plant can grow to about 4 feet tall.
- Green varieties are less hot than red ones.
- Botanically, it’s a berry, not a vegetable.
- Asia is the largest cayenne producer.
- You can grow it in your own garden or as a house plant as well, no matter where you live.
- In the wild, birds are the major distributors of cayenne pepper since they can’t taste the heat.
15 Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
The perks and uses of cayenne pepper are endless, but here are 15 of the best health benefits that it can bring into your life:
Ensures proper blood flow
The active compound capsaicin found in cayenne pepper boasts powerful antioxidant properties and helps to improve the blood flow, reducing the risk of blood clots and heart disease. Capsaicin can also help to reduce “bad” cholesterol level and high blood pressure, preventing blockages in both arteries and veins.
Relieves and prevents joint and muscle pain
Cayenne has been used in some medications for years, especially those created for relieving and preventing joint and muscle pain. You can find it in many over-the-counter ointments and creams that promise to help you get rid of osteoarthritis pain, joint pain, back pain, leg pain from diabetic neuropathy, nerve pain from shingles, and osteochondrosis pain.
Apart from the antioxidant properties, capsaicin has a potent anti-inflammatory effect, which plays a crucial role in pain reduction.
The heat of the spice speeds up your metabolic rate, helping you burn calories, prevent fat buildup, shrink fat tissue, and lower blood fat levels. It also promotes the flow of enzyme and gastric juice productions and helps your body metabolize food better and get rid of harmful toxins. No wonder, many detox meals and drinks include cayenne. They raise the temperature of your body, activate the sweat glands, and kick-start your metabolic rate, stimulating the natural detoxification process.
Wards off different types of cancers
Cancer isn’t just a disease; it may be the end of your life, which is why it’s critical to do all possible to prevent it. Again, this all thanks to capsaicin that aids in combating cancer cells. A study conducted by the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine, in California, (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16540674) proved that this pungent ingredient has a significant anti-proliferative impact on prostate cancer. Many other studies showed that consuming chili can fight lung, breast, liver, and skin cancers.
Cures a sore throat
Chili is also used in the most homemade sore throat remedies and for a good reason. When combined with lemon, honey, or/and plain warm water, it aids in swallowing, warding off bacteria, and releasing mucus build-up in the nasal passages.
Reduces headaches and migraine
Whether you are suffering from occasional headaches or a migraine, you can relieve it with red hot pepper powder. As I mentioned above, capsaicin has healing powers and pain-relief abilities. Plus, it ensures healthy blood circulation, which positively affects your nervous system. Chances are, your doctor will tell you the same. When I turned to mine a few months ago with my constants headaches, she prescribed me the cayenne pepper capsules, which I refused to take later and switched to the spice instead.
Helps your entire nervous system function well
Speaking about the nervous system, cayenne pepper is a great source of magnesium and perhaps you already know about the importance of this vital nutrient. It stimulates enzyme functions and promotes your nervous system health. The next time you feel stress out, add a sprinkle of the chili powder to your coffee or lemon water and see how it will work for you.
Supports oral health
Chili is effective at preventing gum diseases, including gingivitis and periodontitis, and common oral problems, such as a toothache, swollen gums, bleeding gums, dry mouth and bad breath. It’s all thanks to anti-inflammatory properties and pain-relieving properties the pepper offers.
Eases psoriasis symptoms
Psoriasis is a serious disease and it has nothing to do with an allergy. Many young people are suffering from psoriasis, most of them chronic, and it often leads to a number of other more serious medical conditions, such as psoriatic arthritis and heart disease. A research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology suggests that topical uses of capsaicin can effectively treat pruritic psoriasis. Don’t try to treat psoriasis at home, though. Just talk to your doctor if capsaicin-based creams are good for you.
Prevents the fungal pathogen formation
Due to its incredible anti-fungal properties (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12627807), chili has the ability to combat fungus and the common candida symptoms, including joint pain, hormone imbalance, weak immune system, and digestive problems.
Helps the body detoxify itself
Cayenne pepper maintains the circulatory system, regulates blood sugar, and speeds up the metabolic rate, helping the body detoxify itself. If you are trying to cleanse your body from the toxins and improve your health, consider drinking warm lemon water with a sprinkle of the chili powder. Just make sure you can tolerate the heat it provides. Remember, everyone’s body isn’t the same. Just in case you experience a burning sensation in the mouth, or you suddenly start suffering from stomach irritation and heartburn, have a few tablespoons of cold unsweetened yogurt and see your doctor immediately.
Maintains healthy vision
An antioxidant, vitamin A, found in cayenne helps to keep your eyes healthy. Plus, capsaicin boosts blood flow to the eyes and fight inflammation the mucous membranes. Never apply the pepper to your eyes! I have read many tips like this, and this is biased. I strongly recommend you to stay away from those “natural” remedies as they lead to serious and even fatal consequences. Add the powder to your meals, instead. It’s safer and more useful for your eyes.
Keeps your stomach happy
When consumed in small amounts, cayenne can do miracles for your stomach. It can help relieve and prevent cramps, bloating, gas, and stomach aches. According to Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines, the pepper stimulates the healthy flow of stomach gastric acid secretions and saliva.Moreover, it can help you avoid overeating as it’s a natural appetite suppressant. Overeating is one of the reasons of bloating and gas. If this is your problem, maybe a sprinkle of chili powder over your morning oatmeal or evening green smoothie will help you cope with it.
It’s good for your skin
Vitamin A and vitamin E found in the spice slow down the aging process and help to avoid one of the most terrible problems of young women – premature aging. Additionally, those vitamins play a crucial role in balancing hormones, repairing damaged skin, maintaining healthy hair, and fighting free radicals. Bye, bye, wrinkles! Hello, healthy, glowing skin!
Boost your mood
Last but not the least, spicy foods are known for their mood-boosting abilities, and again, thanks to capsaicin that helps better your blood circulation and cause the brain to release the”feel-good” chemicals called endorphins. If you are prone to seasonal depression, chronic depression, anxiety and mood swings, consider incorporating a few sprinkles of cayenne pepper powder into your office snacks or anytime you feel down. (see the recipes below)
10 Yummy Ways to Use Cayenne Pepper
With the versatility cayenne pepper offers, it gives you a better chance of including it in your everyday diet. It can be used anywhere – in raw dishes, baked goods, salads, entrees, veggie burgers, etc. Here are some other yummy ideas to experiment with:
- Drinks: cocktails, coffee, hot chocolate, lemon water, lemon tea, lemonade, and herbal teas.
- Baked beans.
- Fried, boiled, or scrambled eggs, as well as an omelet.
- Granola bars.
The Possible Side Effects of Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is bursting with health, weight-loss, and beauty benefits, but still, it should be consumed in the right portions. In reality, if you opt for smaller quantities, your stomach will absorb the nutrients better and you will manage to avoid the possible drawbacks. Too much of this potent spice can lead to:
- inflammation of the stomach linings;
- kidney damage;
- burning in the mouth;
- a runny nose;
- upset stomach;
- it can reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure, anti-coagulant, and acid-reduction drugs;
- increased stomach cancer risk (according to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology);
- digestion problems;
- allergic reaction (especially, if you are allergic bananas, avocados, kiwi, chestnuts, or latex, according to the PDRhealth website)
- liver issues;
- watery eyes;
- extra sweating;
- skin irritation, when used topically;
- increased bleeding.
3 Cayenne Pepper Recipes
Considering that cayenne pepper is easy to find, affordable, and quick to use in many recipes, there’s no reason to skip it while cooking your breakfast or dinner. Pick up a pack of organic red pepper powder at the nearest grocery store and nosh up to enjoy all the benefits it contains with just one dash. Have no idea where to use it? Take a look at these awesome recipes:
Red Pepper Roasted Nuts
- 3 cups mixed nuts (walnuts, peanuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts)
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon fresh sage leaves, chopped
- ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
- ½ teaspoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients. Spread the nuts in one layer on the baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the nuts are golden. Let them cool and enjoy in moderation (around 6 nuts for each serving and not more than 2 times a day).
Spicy Orange Mango Smoothie
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 large orange, peeled and sliced
- ½ cup mango chunks
- ½ frozen banana
- A sprinkle of cayenne
- Crushed mix nuts (optional)
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor a blender and blend for about 40 seconds, or until smooth.
Sweet and Spicy Butternut Squash
- 3 cups butternut Squash, peeled, cubed
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- A dash of black pepper
- A sprinkle of cayenne
- A sprinkle of cinnamon
- 1 tbsp. maple syrup
- 2 tbsp.dried cranberries
- Salt to taste
Preheat your oven to 400F.
Spray a baking sheet with aluminum foil with cooking spray, and set aside.
Mix all of the ingredients, except dried cranberries, in a large bowl and spread in an even layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping occasionally until the butternut squash is soft and golden. Top with the cranberries and enjoy!
Cayenne pepper is truly like magic. With just a sprinkle, you can transform any meal from totally boring to something utterly delicious. Having it in your spice cupboard is a fast way to jazz up your smoothie or kick up your morning eggs. Do you have a favorite way to use this spicy food in your meals? Please let me know in the comments.
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