Cayenne is a spicy pepper well-known for bringing a kick to most dishes. You might be surprised to learn, though, that it is a superfood with many health benefits!
Cayenne has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties. Whether in its whole form or dried into a powder, a little bit of cayenne can both add flavor to your dishes as well as imparting health.
Here is what you need to know about this spicy powerhouse and cayenne pepper’s top health benefits.
Some Background on Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne Pepper originated from Central and South America and dates back to 7000 BC. It was named after a city in French Guiana, Cayenne, and is closely related to the jalapeño and bell pepper. The smell of the cayenne is surprisingly mild, but the flavor is exceptionally fiery.
Cayenne gained popularity in Europe during the time of Columbus because it was a flavorful alternative to the prohibitively expensive black pepper at the time. The spice is used in cuisines around the world and is a staple in Mexican, Creole, Cajun, and Southwestern American cooking. It is typically used in its powdered form to add flavor to dishes.
Many Asian cuisines also use cayenne pepper for their flavor and health benefits. Most notably, cayenne is a staple in the simple diet of the Hunzas in Asia. These people enjoy excellent good health and often live to be over 100 years old.
Capsaicin is the powerful ingredient in cayenne peppers that give it its spicy flavor. It’s also the ingredient that is responsible for many of cayenne pepper's health benefits. Both Chinese Traditional Medicine and Ayurveda medicine recognize cayenne pepper for its medicinal qualities and have used it for thousands of years. Both traditions use cayenne pepper to stimulate the appetite and improve blood flow.
Cayenne Pepper Benefits
In addition to its history of imparting health, cayenne pepper has many benefits that are backed by science. Some of these include:
Aids Weight Loss
Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne pepper, has exciting potential for weight loss. It can help to boost metabolism. In one study, participants who took capsaicin and MCT oil burned 51% more calories than the control group. Cayenne pepper can be useful for people who need to give their metabolism a much-needed lift for weight loss.
Capsaicin has a limited effect on metabolism, and its boosting qualities only work for a short time, but it can be useful for people who need a jump-start to their weight loss. The body does eventually grow accustomed to capsaicin, and it no longer revs up the metabolism.
For many people, the start of the weight loss journey, or a plateau within their journey, can be disheartening. Cayenne pepper can be a helpful way to give the body a temporary lift to overcome a weight loss slump.
Cayenne pepper also works as a natural appetite suppressant, and researchers have studied its ability to reduce hunger. It works by counteracting the hunger hormone ghrelin to help the body send fewer hunger signals to the brain.
In one study, participants who took capsaicin as a supplement ate 10% less during the day than the control group. Surprisingly, those who took the same capsaicin supplement as a drink ended up eating 16% less during the day than the control group, so it would appear that drinking capsaicin boosts its hunger-suppressing effects.
Between its metabolism-boosting and appetite-suppressing effects, cayenne pepper can help aid weight loss.
Improves Digestive Health
Cayenne pepper has long been used to aid digestive health — medical journal articles dating all the way back to the 1840s studied its ability to prevent seasickness. Recent research supports what people have known by experience throughout history: cayenne pepper can be a great aid to digestive health.
Cayenne pepper helps the stomach fight off infection. One study found that capsaicin in cayenne pepper stimulates the nerves in the stomach that help protect it from injury. The stimulation actually makes the stomach stronger to help fight off infections that may reside there.
Many people think cayenne pepper irritates the stomach because of its spiciness. However, the same study above found that it can actually prevent ulcers! Ulcers are not caused by stress, which it was rumored to in times past. Instead, a specific strain of bacteria, H. Pylori, causes ulcers. Cayenne pepper strengthens the stomach naturally to help fight off the infection and bring relief.
In addition to strengthening the digestive tract, cayenne pepper inhibits acid production naturally. Many people take acid blockers, such as Tums, regularly to stop acid reflux. Cayenne pepper counteracts acid to stop an upset stomach and diarrhea naturally.
Cayenne pepper also benefits digestion by encouraging saliva production. Most people are surprised to learn that digestion actually starts in the mouth. The saliva works to break down food and begin the process of digestion. By stimulating salivation, cayenne pepper makes food easier to digest.
Saliva production also has the bonus of keeping your breath fresh! Saliva fights bad breath, so cayenne in your diet can help you fight halitosis.
Boosts Heart Health
Heart health is a common problem in industrialized countries: heart attacks are the leading cause of death in America, and 735,000 Americans experience a heart attack every year. Most people are looking to find a way to keep their hearts healthy for the long run, and cayenne pepper can help in several key ways.
The capsaicin in cayenne pepper helps to clear away lipid deposits and dilate arteries. These both work to counteract the cause of heart attacks and keep the heart as healthy as possible to pump blood through the body.
Next, cayenne pepper is also being researched for its ability to lower blood pressure. Some initial animal studies show its promise for people with high blood pressure.
Lastly, researchers are also finding that cayenne pepper can help reduce heart arrhythmias. Cayenne pepper can be a great addition to a heart-healthy diet to keep your heart strong and healthy for the long run.
Helps Fight Cancer
There is promising research in the cancer-fighting qualities of cayenne pepper. UCLA’s School of Medicine researchers found that capsaicin, the powerful ingredient in cayenne pepper, helped inhibit tumor growth and prevented dangerous new formations in patients with prostate cancer.
In addition to this promising research, there are also animal studies that show it might be effective in fighting cancer. Various studies show that it can help fight cancer with its amazing qualities.
In fact, the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends peppers in its official dietary recommendations, Foods that Fight Cancer, because of the strength of the promising research. Adding cayenne pepper to your diet can be one more tool to help prevent or fight cancer.
Plenty of research links eating spicy foods, such as cayenne pepper, with longer life. In addition to the Hunzas mentioned above, a study of half a million people found that those who ate spicy food had a 14% chance of living longer than those who ate bland foods.
Spicy foods, such as cayenne pepper, are linked with heart health and cancer-fighting qualities, which are two of the major causes of death in industrialized countries. It makes sense, then, that another study found that regularly consuming spicy foods was correlated with a lower rate of death from respiratory disease, heart problems, and cancer.
Rich in Nutrients
For such a small amount, cayenne pepper is a nutritional powerhouse. In fact, just 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper will give you almost an entire day’s worth (88%) of Vitamin A. There is only so much food that we can consume on any given day, so nutrient-rich foods like cayenne pepper are essential to keep yourself as healthy as possible while still consuming a reasonable amount of food.
Vitamin A is first in the alphabet of vitamins for an important reason. Vitamin A promotes cell growth, so it is essential at the most basic level. It also boosts immunity, maintains healthy eyesight, and is critical for healthy skin and better brain function.
In addition to Vitamin A, cayenne pepper also has Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Vitamin K, and Manganese. Cayenne pepper is a great way to add more nutrients to your food!
How to Take Cayenne Pepper
One of the great things about cayenne pepper is how easy it can be to take. You can cook it fresh into a meal or use it as a spice to give your meal a kick. However, research has shown that it may be more effective if consumed as a liquid, especially if the cayenne pepper’s being used as a weight loss aid.
Also, some people don't like spicy foods, or can't handle spice well enough to get a significant enough amount to help their health. This can especially be a problem if you need the gut-healing properties of cayenne pepper but have a hard time consuming it.
Thankfully, Hana Tonic can make it easier for you. Hana Tonic's blend includes the potent cayenne pepper in a liquid shot to help your digestive and overall health.
Give it a try and feel its amazing benefits today!