The Health benefits of turmeric have become well known in recent times. We will analyse the benefits that this plant offers you and how to…
Many people consider cayenne peppers to be the king of medicinal herbs.
In fact, these peppers have been used for thousands of years to help treat many health problems.
Not only do they have medicinal properties, but cayenne peppers are also great for cooking and contain several beneficial nutrients.
What Are Cayenne Peppers?
Cayenne peppers are a type of chili pepper. They belong to the nightshade family of flowering plants and are closely related to bell peppers and jalapeños.
They were originally grown in Central and South America, but brought to Europe in the 15th century by Christopher Columbus.
Cayenne peppers are a popular spice used in many different regional styles of cooking, and they have been used medicinally for thousands of years.
These peppers boast an impressive nutrition profile, which includes a variety of antioxidants that are beneficial for your health.
Cayenne pepper contains
One tablespoon (5 grams) of cayenne pepper contains the following
- Calories: 17
- Fat: 1 gram
- Carbs: 3 grams
- Fiber: 1.4 grams
- Protein: 0.6 grams
- Vitamin A: 44% of the RDI
- 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
Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne peppers, is what gives them their medicinal properties.
It also gives them their hot taste. In fact, how hot cayenne pepper is depends on its capsaicin content. The more capsaicin it contains, the hotter it is.
8 science-backed benefits of cayenne pepper.
Cayenne Pepper May Boost Your Metabolism
The capsaicin in cayenne peppers has metabolism-boosting properties.
It helps increase the amount of heat your body produces, making you burn more calories per day Source
It does this through a process called diet-induced thermogenesis, which causes an increase in your metabolism.
In one study, people who ate a breakfast containing capsaicin and medium-chain triglyceride oil burned 51% more calories during that meal, compared to people who had neither for breakfast Source
But while capsaicin helps boost metabolism, the overall effect is small.
In another study, people who ate 1 gram of red cayenne pepper only burned 10 more calories over fourand a half hours, compared to those who didn’t eat any cayenne pepper Source
It’s also important to know that people who regularly consume cayenne peppers don’t continue to reap the same benefits from them over time, as their bodies adapt to the effects Source
Can Help Reduce Hunger
Interestingly, cayenne peppers may reduce your hunger, helping you eat less and feel fuller for longer.
How it does this is not completely understood, but one study showed that it reduces the production of the hunger hormone ghrelin
One study showed that people taking capsaicin ate less food throughout the day than those who didn’t take any. Specifically, those taking capsaicin supplements ate 10% less, while those who drank a capsaicin-containing beverage ate 16% less Source
People in the same study also reported feeling fuller, while eating fewer calories Source
May Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a huge health risk worldwide. In fact, over 40% of adults over 25 have high blood pressure Source
Interestingly, animal studies have shown that the capsaicin in cayenne peppers may reduce high blood pressure.
One study in mice with high blood pressure showed that the long-term consumption of dietary spices containing capsaicin helped reduce blood pressure Source
Another study showed that capsaicin helped relax blood vessels in pigs, leading to lower blood pressure Source
It’s important to note that the findings above are based on animals, and capsaicin’s effects may differ in humans. It is best to take these findings with a grain of salt.
May Aid Digestive Health
Dietary spices and their active components may provide many benefits for your stomach.
It does this by stimulating nerves in the stomach that signal for protection against injury Source
While some believe that spicy food may cause stomach ulcers, a review paper has shown that the capsaicin in cayenne peppers may actually help reduce the risk of stomach ulcers Source
May Help Relieve Pain
Capsaicin has potent pain-relieving properties when applied to the skin in a cream.
This is because capsaicin helps reduce the amount of substance P, a neuropeptide produced by the body that travels to the brain to signal pain Source
When less substance P is produced, pain signals can no longer reach the brain, and feelings of pain decrease Source
Joint and muscle pain
Lower back pain
Pain after surgery
Pain from nerve conditions like shingles
Additionally, it’s important to note that capsaicin cream should not be applied to an open wound or broken skin.
May Improve Psoriasis
Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which your body attacks itself.
Psoriasis is an example of an autoimmune disease that appears as patches of red, itchy and scaly skin.
One study showed that psoriasis patients treated with capsaicin cream had significantly reduced scaling, redness and patchiness than patients who received a placebo cream Source
It’s believed that substance P plays a role in psoriasis. As mentioned previously, capsaicin helps reduce the amount of substance P produced by your body Source
May Reduce Cancer Risk
Cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrollable cell growth.
While capsaicin’s effects on cancer cells seem promising, it’s important to note that the current findings are based on laboratory and animal studies.
Capsaicin’s effects on cancer in humans has not yet been studied, so it’s wise to take this information with a grain of salt.
Easy to Add to Your Diet
Cayenne pepper is easy to incorporate into your diet. It comes in different forms, including as a whole food, spice and supplement.
A wide selection is available on Amazon.
You can add a pinch of cayenne pepper spice to many of your favorite foods, such as eggs, homemade fries and even marinades.
Alternatively, you could slice whole cayenne peppers and add them to salads.
If you haven’t eaten a cayenne pepper before, be sure to do a small taste test to see if you can tolerate the heat, as they are very spicy.
Risks and Precautions
Cayenne peppers are generally recognized as safe to eat Source
However, eating too much cayenne pepper in one sitting may give you a stomach ache and make you feel sick Source
If you are taking medications for high blood pressure, such as ACE inhibitors, check with your doctor before trying capsaicin cream, as it may cause coughing Source
Also, if you take a blood thinner like warfarin, check with your doctor before trying cayenne peppers since they may increase your risk of bleeding Source
Lastly, when applying capsaicin cream to your skin, do not apply it to an open wound or broken skin.
The Bottom Line
Cayenne peppers may have many health benefits that are the result of their active component, capsaicin.
They may reduce your appetite and help lower blood pressure, among many other benefits.
If you’re worried that cayenne peppers may interact with your current medication, it’s best to check with your doctor.
For most people, cayenne peppers are a great way to add a kick to your diet.