What are the health benefits of cayenne pepper? Is it good for you? Yes, cayenne pepper offers a number of potential health benefits, including metabolism boost, hunger control and more. Learn more at Chili Pepper Madness.
Benefits of Cayenne Peppers
Cayenne pepper, in both fresh and powdered form, have been used for its health benefits for generations. Not only are they nutritious and delicious, but they also contain numerous vitamins as well as capsaicinoids, specifically capsaicin, the chemical that makes chili peppers "hot".
Capsaicin is also where many of the peppers health benefits come from.
Even consuming a small amount of dried cayenne can render benefits, such as a teaspoon of cayenne pepper in meals.
Many of the health benefits attributed to hot peppers like cayenne peppers are linked to their capsaicin content. Peppers contain a variety of compounds called capsaicinoids, but capsaicin is the most abundant
What is a Cayenne Pepper?
The cayenne (capsicum annuum) is one of the most popular peppers in the world. The red pepper is named for the city of Cayenne in French Guinea, where it originates. The pods are bright red ranging from 2-5 inches long and about 1/2 inch in diameter. You will usually find it sold as a powder, labeled "cayenne pepper".
The peppers range in heat from 30,000 - 50,000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville Scale. This makes an average cayenne about 8 times hotter than an average jalapeno pepper. That's quite a bit of heat, though still about 25 times less hot than a ghost pepper.
Bell peppers, by contrast, measure a "0" on the Scoville Scale, having no heat factor at all.
Cayenne peppers can also be used fresh in dishes, but are a little harder to find outside of the powdered form, unless you grow them yourself.
Learn more about cayenne peppers here, including nutritional value, flavor, heat levels and more.
Many Cayenne Pepper Benefits
Cayenne pepper has been studied for a number of potential health benefits because of its unique chemical and anti inflammatory properties. Here are some of the top health benefits of fresh cayenne pepper:
- Reduce Blood Pressure
- May Help Heart Disease
- Weight Loss Management
- Pain Relief (Headache Relief)
- Treating Skin Conditions
- Cancer Treatment
- Digestive Health
Cayenne Pepper Can Help Reduce Blood Pressure
Cayenne peppers are naturally high in vitamins A and C, and also bioflavinoids. These can help strengthen our blood vessels as well as make them more elastic, making them better able to adjust to fluctuations in blood pressure.
Because they are hot, eating cayenne peppers also can make us sweat, which causes fluid loss, temporarily reducing overall blood volume.
Animal studies have shown some benefits, which may translate to human benefits as well.
May Help Heart Disease
Capsaicin from cayenne peppers may help to protect the heart and reduce heart disease by reducing cholesterol, triglycerides and platelet aggregation. It may also help the body dissolve fibrin, which is necessary for blood clots to form.
Spicy chili peppers, including cayenne peppers, may help to suppress your appetite, help you burn fat, and speed up your metabolism.
By incorporating them into your overall diet, you may able to better control your weight and boost metabolism.
Note that the metabolism boost is small, but measurable, but also that people who eat spicy food regularly lose that benefit long term, as their body adapts to the constant intake.
Some studies have show that people taking capsaicin supplements reduced their appetites by 10% or more. Capsaicin is the active ingredient in cayenne peppers, and all hot peppers.
Cayenne Pepper Antioxidants
Cayenne pepper is made up of a number of plant compounds and antioxidants that help mop up free radicals that build up in the body, which are linked to a myriad of health issues.
Capsaicin has been widely studied as a pain reliever. It has the ability to activate a specific pain receptor, causing the brain to release a neurotransmitter that alleviates pain. Today, there are capsaicin creams or topical capsaicin, ointments and patches that keep pain at bay from issues such as joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Cayenne for Skin Conditions
Capsaicin is known to treat a variety of skin conditions, including postherpetic neuralgia and psoriasis. There is no cure for psoriasis, but the use of capsaicin creams has shown to reduce skin breakouts and act as an anti inflammatory.
Capsaicin is being researched for many different types of cancers, for its ability to shrink tumors, prevent metastasis, causing apoptosis, as well as cancer prevention.
According to the research, capsaicin induced approximately 80 percent of prostate cancer cells growing in mice to follow the molecular pathways leading to apoptosis.
Prostate cancer tumors treated with capsaicin were about one-fifth the size of tumors in non-treated mice. Promises for cancer treatment has spurred a great deal of research in capsaicin.
Research and clinical trials are continuous and ongoing, but hold a great deal of promise.
Possibly Aid Digestive Health
Cayenne peppers and other spices may help increase the stomach's infection fighting ability by stimulating stomach nerves that project against injury and infection.
It may also reduce the risk of stomach ulcers, which is opposite to what some believe.
If you are interested in incorporating cayenne pepper into your diet to help alleviate pain, boost your immune system, or to realize specific health benefits and deal with health problems, it is wise to consult your physician for medical advice to learn about benefits and possible side effects.
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NOTE: This post was updated on 4/5/22 to include new information. It was originally published on 7/21/20.