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Cayenne Pepper: Health Benefits and Potential Side Effects

If you like spices, you must be familiar with Cayenne pepper. It is a well-known spice common in all kitchens around the world. People use peppers in multiple ways. For example, you can eat them raw or cooked or use them as a spice in dried or pounds form. They add flavour and colour to your meals. Cayenne Peppers are green vegetables, which we can use in dried and powdered form for culinary uses. In addition, we can also use them in sauces, salads, dips, and dressings. People also use them as a preserving agent. For example, they add them to pickles and marinades with vinegar. Fresh peppers are a rich source of vitamins. They also have carotenoids, phenols, flavonoids, and other antioxidants. In addition, essential minerals like calcium and iron are present in cayenne pepper.

The cayenne pepper has originated from Cayenne in French Guiana. However, it is growing in many countries worldwide, including India, Mexico and Africa. It is also grown in the United States, Europe etc. It’s commonly dried and ground into a fine powder, and people use it fresh in many recipes. 

Cayenne peppers are hot peppers or chilli peppers. But, they have about 50 varieties, which differ according to taste and colour. However, the main types include red, green, and yellow.

What is Cayenne Pepper?

Cayenne peppers, scientifically known as Capsicum Annum, are long, skinny peppers with a bright reddish colour. Capsaicin is the functional compound of pepper, which gives it the flavour. The peppers and tomatoes belong to the same family. Therefore, they are a vital ingredient in every cuisine.

Besides its culinary use, cayenne pepper is full of nutrients like vitamins A, B, C and E. In addition, they are rich in antioxidants. The essential minerals present are potassium and manganese. Thus, they impart remarkable nutrient value.

Nutritional Value of Cayenne Pepper

 100 grams of cayenne pepper contains

Calories: 318 kcalsProtein: 12 gFat: 17.3 gFibre: 27.2 g

Vitamins and Minerals

Cayenne pepper also contains reasonable amounts of micronutrients.

Calcium: 148 mgIron: 7.8 mgVitamin C: 76.4 mgVitamin A: 2080 mcgMagnesium: 152 mgVitamin B1: 0.32 mgVitamin B2: 0.9 mgPotassium: 2010 mgZinc: 2.4 mgVitamin B3: 8.7 mgVitamin K: 80.3 mcgFolate: 106 mcg

Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper

They have a wide range of health benefits beyond their minerals or vitamins content. Mostly the health benefits are offered by capsaicin, a compound that renders the spicy flavour. 

1. Antioxidant Properties

Studies suggest that cayenne pepper are an excellent source of antioxidants. Our bodies produce free radicals as a result of metabolism. However, an excess of free radicals harms our tissues and organs. Antioxidants neutralise these free radicals and save us from damage. In addition, cayenne pepper contains flavonoids, which also help protect your cells. The most important antioxidants include vitamin C and A, which also helps reduce the risk of certain diseases like arthritis and heart diseases.

2. Improves Heart Health

Cayenne peppers can protect your heart health in multiple ways. For example, they help control blood pressure, one of the major causes of many cardiac diseases. In addition, capsaicin has a vasodilatory effect. As per studies, it helps widen the blood vessels in the heart, making the blood flow easier and reducing blood pressure. Moreover, they also contain reasonable amounts of potassium, which helps regulate heartbeats and contribute to a healthy heart.

Studies suggest that capsaicin helps reduce bad cholesterol levels and prevents unnecessary blood clotting. As a result, it lowers blood pressure and chances of stroke.

3. Improves Digestion

A study demonstrates the mechanism of capsaicin on gastric acid output. The study suggests capsaicin in cayenne pepper helps improve digestive function and enhance the secretion of gastric juices. In addition, capsaicin also improves gut health by reducing inflammation. Therefore, it also helps reduce the risk of metabolic diseases. Moreover, vitamin B helps in the proper breakdown of fats and sugar to release energy. Consequently, they help regulate metabolism.

4. Promotes Weight Loss

As we already know, capsaicin helps to boost the digestion process. In addition, it is rich in fibre. As a result, it helps keep you satiated for long, meaning that you won’t experience food cravings. Therefore, they help maintain a healthy weight.

5. Relieves Pain

Capsaicin has powerful pain-relieving properties. It stimulates pain receptors when applied to the skin. Studies suggest that it soothes the nerves and relieves pain. Therefore, it is beneficial in certain diseases like arthritis. By a similar mechanism, they are effective in migraines too.  However, it is essential to consult your physician before using them.

6. Anti-Cancer Properties

Capsaicin has anti-carcinogenic or anti-cancer properties, which prevent the spread of cancer cells to other tissues. Studies show that they control the multiplication of cancer cells. Moreover, they have antioxidant properties, which prevent free radical damage to cells. Radical cell injury induces multiple disorders, from infections to cancer. Therefore, capsaicin prevents breast, colon, and prostate cancer.

7. Improves Vision

Vitamin A is a vital nutrient for your eyes. It helps enhance your vision. Moreover, antioxidants like lutein in cayenne pepper prevent inflammatory diseases. It also reduces the damage caused by free radicals. Therefore, cayenne pepper safeguards your eyes against any infections or diseases.

8. Decongestant

Capsaicin in cayenne pepper relieves congestion. Therefore, it is beneficial in bronchitis and nasal congestion. In addition, the capsaicin in the cayenne pepper has the property to thin out the mucus. Consequently, it prevents congestion and gives you relief. Thus, foods with cayenne pepper soothe your congestion. In addition, due to its beneficial properties, capsaicin is the ingredient for nasal spray.

9. Protects Liver

Studies suggest that capsaicin has hepatoprotective effects. They reduce the risk of inflammation in the liver. Capsaicin also protects against oxidative stress. Hence, they prevent the death of liver cells. This property may prove helpful in protecting the liver from alcoholic liver disease.

10. Helps in Bone and Tooth Disorders

Cayenne pepper contains calcium and magnesium, which help in the growth and repair of bones. Additionally, capsaicin also has anti-inflammatory properties, which reduces the severity of arthritis.

Fibromyalgia is another disorder that affects the muscles and bone. It causes body pain, fatigue and weakness. Studies suggest that capsaicin helps relieve pain in both conditions. Capsaicin is an active ingredient in pain killer creams. It also acts as a counter-irritant to reduce toothaches. In addition, the anti-inflammatory properties prevent inflammatory disorders in gums and mouth tissues.

11. Improves Blood Sugar Control

Several pharma companies have been using cayenne pepper and its variants to treat diabetes. Studies suggest that capsaicin stimulates insulin synthesis. It also improves the utilisation of blood glucose, reducing the sugar level in your blood. In addition, the fibre in cayenne pepper helps in the controlled release of blood glucose. As a result, it helps prevent blood sugar spikes.

12. Antimicrobial Properties

Cayenne pepper has antibacterial and antifungal properties. In addition, research shows that it helps prevent infections. 

13. Strengthens Immunity

A study suggests that capsaicin in cayenne pepper enhances your immunity by improving the release of immune factors. In addition, cayenne pepper restricts the entry of disease-causing microbes into the body. The proteins in cayenne pepper stimulate the synthesis of antibodies. As a result, they improve immune response to pathogens.

Furthermore, vitamin C and other antioxidants present in cayenne pepper also helps in reversing cell injury.

14. Improves Skin Health

Vitamin C helps repair the skin tissues and promote collagen synthesis. Therefore, it improves skin health. It also protects the skin from sun damage. Vitamin A protects your body against skin infections and imparts firmness to your skin.

In addition, it delays the age-related fine lines and wrinkles from your skin. Therefore, vitamin A is an ingredient in many drugs for skin disorders. Furthermore, studies show that capsaicin prevents skin cancer. It also prevents any rashes or skin inflammation.

Ways to Incorporate Cayenne Pepper into Your Diet

It is a versatile ingredient that you can add to almost any dish. For example, you can add it to spice mixes or use it in marmalades and salad dressings. In addition, you can sprinkle cayenne pepper as a seasoning on your dishes and soups. It can also be an ingredient in your chilli sauce, an irresistible addition to a variety of delicacies.

Healthy Recipes Using Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper imparts a spicy and smoky flavour to every cuisine. Therefore, you can see its uses from drinks to the main course. There are hardly any dishes without cayenne pepper.

1. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

With the benefits of pumpkin seeds combined with the nutrients of cayenne pepper, this is an oil-free and low-calorie healthy snack.

Preparation time: 5 minutesServes: 1

Ingredients

Roasted pumpkin seeds: 20gCayenne pepper (crushed): 10g Lime juice: 30mlSalt to taste

Method

Mix the pumpkin seeds and cayenne pepper in a heated pan. Toss them well.Heat for two minutes on low flame.Add lime juice.Mix them well and serve hot.

2. Cayenne Pepper Tea

The cayenne pepper tea is an excellent decoction for many ailments like fever, sore throat, stomach upset etc. It is easy and simple to prepare. The nutrients of the cayenne pepper make it a quick home remedy to soothe you with its health benefits.

Preparation time: 5 minutesServes: 1

Ingredients

Water: 200mlGinger (crushed): 10gLemon juice: 5mlJaggery: 5gCayenne pepper (powdered): 10g

Method

Add ginger, cayenne pepper and lemon juice to a tea pan.Add boiling water.Let it heat for 3-4 minutes.Add jaggery and mix well. Serve hot and enjoy.

Potential Side Effects of Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne peppers add spice to your dishes. The nutrient values and health benefits of pepper are abundant. However, excess consumption causes side effects. Studies suggest that adverse effects of capsaicin include:

HeartburnStomach disordersBurning sensationSwelling and painNauseaVomitingBronchitisDryness

It causes irritability to the throat, mouth, nose etc. So, ensure you take the recommended daily dose only.

Cayenne Pepper: Precautions

Blood Clotting

Studies suggest that vitamin K improves blood clotting. However, it may interact with certain medications like warfarin. Therefore, it is essential to consult a physician before using cayenne pepper. Talk to your doctor to know about possible interactions.

People use aspirin and ACE inhibitors to treat cardiac disorders. Unfortunately, antacids interact with cayenne pepper supplements. Therefore, you should consult your doctor before adding this pepper to your diet.

Bowel Disease

People with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) should refrain from consuming cayenne pepper. That is because it is harmful in gastroesophageal reflux disease. In addition, people with the above disorders are sensitive to spice. Therefore, cayenne pepper reacts as an irritant and results in stomach pain, vomiting, heartburn etc.

Cayenne Pepper Allergy

Allergic reactions to cayenne pepper are infrequent. However, studies show that it causes:

EczemaSwellingCoughUrticariaConjunctivitis

If you experience any discomfort, seek medical attention immediately.

Summary

Cayenne Pepper has a lot of nutrients beneficial to your health. The most crucial component of cayenne pepper is capsaicin, which gives the pepper spiciness and pungency. It is known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic properties. Additionally, it also improves immune functions. In addition, it helps treat conditions like arthritis. Therefore, pharma companies use it in certain medicines to relieve pain. The rich fibre content also imparts several health benefits like weight loss. 

Cayenne pepper benefits us in so many ways. However, it is essential to consume it in moderation because overconsumption can lead to side effects. Also, it is crucial to be informed about the possible drug interactions. Therefore, before adding it to your diet, consult your physician. Since it is a versatile ingredient, you can sprinkle it on your meals or eat it raw. Consume cayenne pepper in the correct ways and enjoy all the benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is cayenne pepper good for in your body?

A. Cayenne pepper has numerous nutrients that are good for your health. It has many antioxidants, including vitamins A, B, C, and E and potassium and manganese. It also improves heart health, promotes weight loss, improves digestion, improves blood sugar control, and strengthens immunity.

Q. How much cayenne pepper should you take in a day?

A. Cayenne pepper is a well-known spice used in a variety of dishes. The dishes range from drinks to main course food items. Although the exact quantities for consumption are not defined, excessive consumption can lead to heartburn and other gastrointestinal problems. Hence, it is best to consume pepper in moderation.

Q. Why is cayenne pepper bad?

A. Cayenne pepper is a powerful spice. So, when you consume it in excess, it can lead to gastrointestinal disorders (irritation or a burning sensation in the stomach). In addition, it can cause respiratory problems or irritation to the skin and eyes, etc.

Q. Is it good to take cayenne pepper at night?

A. No, it is not good to take cayenne pepper at night. Since it is a powerful spice, eating cayenne pepper right before bedtime can cause indigestion, heartburn, and elevated body temperature.

Q. Will cayenne pepper unclog arteries?

A. Yes, capsaicin, a component in cayenne pepper, has vasodilatory properties. Studies show that it enlarges blood arteries in the heart. Widening the arteries facilitates the proper flow of blood and reduces the risk of stroke.

Q. Is cayenne pepper good for your heart?

A. Yes, cayenne peppers help lower blood pressure and keep blood vessels healthy. According to a study, it increases circulation, improves blood vessel strength and reduces plaque build-up in your arteries. In addition, it lowers cholesterol and blood fat levels and reduces body weight.

Q. Who should not take cayenne pepper?

A. Excessive cayenne pepper consumption can irritate the stomach lining, resulting in gastritis and even stomach ulcers. As a result, people with ulcers should limit their consumption. In addition, people who take blood-thinning medications such as warfarin, aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen should also consult their doctors before taking cayenne, as it can interfere with the function of these medications.

Q. Is Cayenne anti-inflammatory?

A. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection, and it often causes redness, swelling, pain, or heat. Cayenne pepper and other hot spices are widely considered powerful anti-inflammatory spices that can help reduce chronic inflammation and pain.

Q. Is cayenne pepper good for your liver?

A. Yes, according to research, capsaicin has hepatoprotective properties that reduce the risk of liver inflammation. Capsaicin also protects against oxidative stress, which prevents the death of liver cells. It also protects the liver from the effects of alcoholic liver disease.

Q. Is cayenne pepper good for your kidneys?

A. Yes, according to a 2016 study, capsaicin, the active ingredient of cayenne pepper, can reduce the itching caused by dialysis, a blood purification treatment for people with kidney disease.

Q. Is Cayenne good for arthritis?

A. Yes, capsaicin in cayenne has pain-relieving effects on the bones. It lowers pain and tenderness associated with osteoarthritis by relaxing nerves and thus relieving pain.

Q. Is cayenne pepper an antibiotic?

A. Yes, Cayenne pepper has been used for many years as a medicinal remedy due to its antibiotic and antivirulence properties. It also contains a lot of enzymes that provide extra protection against infections.

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