Cayenne pepper is best known for its ability to increase the heat level of dishes and is prized by lovers of spicy foods the world over. This type of chili pepper is especially popular in Mexican and Mexican-influenced cuisine. However, the cayenne pepper is much more than a mere flavor enhancer. Cayenne peppers provide an array of nutritional benefits along with their heat. Those benefits result from high levels of nutrients and health-improving compounds. Let’s break down why this chili is so good for you.
A 5 g serving of cayenne pepper contains almost half the vitamin A an adult needs on a daily basis. Cayenne pepper may contain more vitamin A than any other spice; it contains more than five times the amount found in marjoram, a herb known to be rich in vitamin A. This vitamin is essential for the function of your body’s major organs as well as for maintaining good eyesight. Vitamin A is also an antioxidant that fights free radicals and thus reduces inflammation.
Cayenne pepper is a good source of vitamin C, with a 5 g serving providing almost 10 percent of your daily requirement for that nutrient. Vitamin C is important for collagen synthesis. Collagen is what your body uses to make skin, blood vessels and cartilage along with various other tissues. Cayenne pepper contains more vitamin C than an equivalent serving size of fresh oranges.
You can get about 8 percent of your daily vitamin E requirement from a 5 g of cayenne pepper. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can balance cholesterol and that also helps many organs to function as they should.
Capsaicin is the compound that gives cayenne peppers their heat. Cayenne peppers contain a high level of capsaicin. Capsaicin’s benefits range from its ability to kill prostate cancer cells to the fact that it is effective for relieving congestion. Studies have also shown capsaicin to be effective for treating cluster headaches when it is administered nasally.
Cayenne is a good source of minerals like manganese, which the body uses to maintain bones; however, it is an excellent source of potassium. By consuming 100 g of cayenne pepper, you can get almost half of the daily requirement for this mineral.
Cayenne pepper may be beneficial for the treatment and prevention of health conditions like:
- Obesity: Not only is cayenne pepper low in calories, it is thought to be beneficial for weight loss. It can increase your metabolic rate, which allows you to burn more calories even in a resting state. It also suppresses appetite, which results in even greater weight loss.
- Diabetes: A 2006 study found that the amount of insulin required to reduce blood sugar after a meal was less if the meal contained chili peppers such as cayenne.
- Stomach ulcers: Contrary to a popular misconception, cayenne does not exacerbate stomach ulcers. Instead, they can help to kill bacteria that cause the ulcers while also stimulating the stomach lining to secrete protective juices.
- Heart disease: Cayenne peppers along with other chili pepper varieties are able to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. The result is that cultures that consume high quantities of these peppers have a much lower rate of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.