6 Potential Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
Little pepper. Big benefits. When it comes to turning up the heat on healthy cooking, cayenne pepper can give your routine quite a kick. Known for its use in hot dishes, this spicy pepper can be used to season just about anything, from curries to pastas to hot tea with lemon. If you haven’t given it a try, now’s a great time to work it into your diet.
Not only does it bring extra flavor to any recipe, cayenne peppers also offer a surprising amount of health benefits. Today, we’re sharing just a few of the reasons to eat cayenne peppers – and why it deserves a primary spot on your spice rack.
1. Cayenne peppers are filled with beneficial nutrients.
In just one 45g chili pepper, there’s 72% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin C, nearly half the daily recommendation of provitamin A, and several additional health-boosting nutrients. Vitamin A is known for facilitating immune system functionality, vision, bone health and other important functions. Meanwhile, vitamin C helps with collagen production and the body’s ability to absorb iron.
Although you likely can’t consume a large portion of cayenne due to its spice level, incorporating small amounts into your regular diet could help you meet the daily recommended values of these nutrients and more, including B6, vitamin K and potassium.
2. They’re high in capsaicin.
If you’re not familiar with capsaicin, it’s a component of peppers that’s believed to alleviate pain and enhance athleticism. It has also been known to lower blood sugar levels. Among these benefits, research also points to capsaicin as demonstrating anti-inflammatory and antioxidant traits. While these findings haven’t been confirmed through specific studies, the capsaicin content is one of the many potential health benefits of cayenne peppers.
3. They contain plant compounds with various health advantages.
Due to their plant compound content, including flavonoids, vitamin C and carotenoids, cayenne peppers could help your body protect against certain types of cellular damage. Specifically, those caused from oxidative stress, which is when you have an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidant defenses.
Because of this, a diet with regular consumption of cayenne peppers could aid in improving your body’s antioxidant defenses – meaning it could possibly be a preventive measure against heart disease.
4. Eating them regularly could boost your health in general.
Although in general, studies about cayenne peppers and their health benefits have been limited, there are some examples that point to their benefits.
A recent study in Italy linked regular cayenne pepper consumption with a lower risk of heart disease fatality, and a review of several studies last year found that it seemed to reduce one’s risk of death from any cause. However, these are associations, and they don’t guarantee that consuming chili peppers will prolong your life or prevent chronic disease.
5. They’re packed with flavor – no salt necessary.
In general, a diet that’s high in salt can be detrimental for your health. It’s potentially even associated with medical complications like heart disease or high blood pressure.
When it comes to flavoring your food, using more spice could help you reduce your salt intake. Simply try mixing in a sprinkle of cayenne or some chopped cayenne pepper to a recipe, and see if the added flavor helps you curb the need for salt.
6. They can be used in so many ways.
Available as a fresh pepper, folded into cooked dishes, or in powdered form, there are lots of reasons to try cayenne. You can even mix it up and try cayenne peppers in savory or sweet dishes.
Just be sure not to overdo it: Start with small amounts and work your way up to find your preferred spice level. In large quantities, they can easily overpower a meal. But because of their versatility, they’re easy to enjoy in a number of ways, meaning you can continue to reap their benefits without getting bored of their uses. And when you’re looking to mix things up, other peppers – like sweet peppers or bell peppers – offer health benefits of their own to round out your diet.
With all of these cayenne pepper benefits, it’s no wonder cayenne is a staple in many kitchens. And best of all, a little bit goes a long way.