As a hot chili pepper in the capsicum family, cayenne pepper is frequently used in savory dishes to enhance the flavor of the dish and add a little pungent spice. However, did you know that this spice cabinet staple may provide some amazing health benefits?
Traditionally grown in the city of Cayenne, French Guiana, cayenne peppers are similar in appearance to jalapeno and bell peppers and have become a staple in many diets. To produce cayenne pepper powder as a kitchen spice, the peppers are dried, then ground. However, traditional Chinese medicine uses cayenne pepper in expanded ways, including to help promote circulatory health.
The hot spice in red peppers comes from the ingredient capsaicin, which is a common component of topical preparations for aches and pains. Capsaicin can help to reduce inflammation, ease itching, and lessen pain. Cayenne pepper also contains naturally occurring antioxidants and vitamins including vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, choline, lutein, zeaxanthin, and a unique source of vitamin A called cryptoxanthin. This symphony of coordinated vitamins and antioxidants can help remove free radicals, which can damage the cellular structure of the body.
Because of its phytonutrients, taking cayenne internally can also support healthy circulation. Studies have indicated that consuming this pepper can help lower total cholesterol, decrease LDL cholesterol (the bad kind of cholesterol), and increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind of cholesterol). Wow! This is really good news since cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of American adults. This pepper can also help arteries relax so they become flexible and have improved endothelial function. Just one more reason to spice up your meals with cayenne!
But this pepper has even more powerful benefits. Cayenne peppers are also known to be metabolism-boosting, because the capsaicin has the ability to increase the amount of heat your body produces. This process is known as diet-induced thermogenesis and can help boost your metabolism. Additionally, adding a bit of cayenne to a meal can help reduce feelings of hunger and can lead to feeling fuller for longer period of time. These peppers are easily added to many delicious dishes to give you a wide array of nutritional effects.
Cayenne can commonly be found as a spice and can easily be added to many types of dishes for an added dash of pungent flavor. Who doesn’t like cayenne-enhanced salsa? Additionally, the fresh pepper can be thinly sliced and added to dishes as a simple way to use more of this valuable plant. What are you waiting for . . . lay on the spice!