Hot and spicy, cayenne pepper is available year
round adding zest to
flavorful dishes around the world and health to those brave enough to
risk its fiery heat.
The cayenne pepper is a member of the Capsicum
vegetables, which are more commonly known as chili peppers. It is known
botanically as Capsicum frutenscens. The common name "cayenne" was
actually given to this pepper because of its cultivation in a town that
bears the same name in French Guiana on the northeast coast of South
Hot and spicy, cayenne pepper adds zest to
flavorful dishes around
the world and health to those brave enough to risk its fiery heat. The
hotness produced by cayenne is caused by its high concentration of a
substance called capsaicin. Technically referred to as
8-methyul-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide, capsaicin has been widely studied
for its pain-reducing effects, its cardiovascular benefits, and its
ability to help prevent ulcers. Capsaicin also effectively opens and
drains congested nasal passages.
In addition to their high capsaicin content,
are also an excellent source of vitamin A, through its concentration of
pro-vitamin A carotenoids including beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is not
only a potent antioxidant in its own right, but can be converted in the
body to vitamin A, a nutrient essential for the health of all epithelial
tissues (the tissues that line all body cavities including the
respiratory, gastrointestinal and reproductive tracts). Beta-carotene
may therefore be helpful in reducing the symptoms of asthma,
osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, its antioxidant
activity make it useful in preventing the free radical damage that can
lead to atherosclerosis, colon cancer, and diabetic complications, like
nerve damage and heart disease.
All chili peppers, including cayenne, contain
capsaicin, which in
addition to giving cayenne its characteristic heat, is a potent
inhibitor of substance P, a neuropeptide associated with inflammatory
processes. The hotter the chili pepper, the more capsaicin it contains.
The hottest varieties include habaņero and Scotch bonnet as well as
cayenne pappers. Jalapeņos are next in their heat and capsaicin
content, followed by the milder varieties, including Spanish pimentos,
and Anaheim and Hungarian cherry peppers.
Capsaicin is being studied as an effective
treatment for sensory nerve fiber disorders, including pain associated
psoriasis, and diabetic neuropathy. When animals injected with a
substance that causes inflammatory arthritis were fed a diet that
contained capsaicin, they had delayed onset of arthritis, and also
significantly reduced paw inflammation.
Natural Pain Relief
Topical capsaicin has been shown in studies to be
treatment for cluster headaches and osteoarthritis pain. Several review
studies of pain management for diabetic neuropathy have listed the
benefits of topical capsaicin to alleviate disabling pain associated
with this condition.
In a double-blind placebo controlled trial, nearly
with psoriasis were given topical preparations containing either
capsaicin or placebo. Patients who were given capsaicin reported
significant improvement based on a severity score which traced symptoms
associated with psoriasis. The side effect reported with topical
capsaicin cream is a burning sensation at the area of application.
Cayenne and other red chili peppers have been
shown to reduce blood
cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and platelet aggregation, while
increasing the body's ability to dissolve fibrin, a substance
integral to the formation of blood clots. Cultures where hot peppers
like cayenne are used liberally have a much lower rate of heart attack,
stroke and pulmonary embolism.
Capsaicin not only reduces pain, but its peppery
stimulates secretions that help clear mucus from your stuffed up nose
or congested lungs. Capsaicin is similar to a compound found in many
cold remedies for breaking up congestion, except that capsaicin works
much faster. A tea made with hot cayenne pepper very quickly stimulates
the mucus membranes lining the nasal passages to drain, helping to
relieve congestion and stuffiness. Next cold and flu season, give it a
Cayenne peppers' bright red color signals its high
beta-carotene or pro-vitamin A. Just two teaspoons of cayenne pepper
provide 29.4% of the daily value for vitamin A. Often called the
anti-infection vitamin, vitamin A is essential for healthy epithelial
tissues including the mucous membranes that line the nasal passages,
lungs, intestinal tract and urinary tract and serve as the body's first
line of defense against invading pathogens.
Prevent Stomach Ulcers
Chili peppers like cayenne have a bad--and
for contributing to stomach ulcers. Not only do they not cause ulcers,
these hot peppers may help prevent them by killing bacteria you may
have ingested, while powerfully stimulating the cells lining the
stomach to secrete protective buffering juices that prevent ulcer
formation. The use of cayenne pepper is actually associated with a
reduced risk of stomach ulcers.
All that heat you feel after eating hot chili
energy--and calories to produce. Even sweet red peppers have been found
to contain substances that significantly increase thermogenesis (heat
production) and oxygen consumption for more than 20 minutes after they
The cayenne pepper is a member of the Capsicum
family of vegetables, which are more commonly known as chili peppers.
It is known botanically as Capsicum frutenscens.
The common name "cayenne" was actually given to this pepper because of
its cultivation in a town that bears the same name in French Guiana on
the northeast coast of South America.
It is not surprising that cayenne peppers as well
as other chili
peppers can trace their seven thousand year history to Central and
South America, regions whose cuisines are renowned for their hot and
spicy flavors. They have been cultivated in these regions for more than
seven thousand years, first as a decorative item and later as a
foodstuff and medicine.
It was not until the 15th and 16th centuries that
other chili peppers were introduced to the rest of the world.
Christopher Columbus encountered them on his explorations of the
Caribbean Islands and brought them back to Europe where they were used
as a substitute for black pepper, which was very expensive at that time
since it had to be imported from Asia. Ferdinand Magellan is credited
with introducing them into Africa and Asia, continents that since have
incorporated them not only into their cuisines but their pharmacopeias.
While cayenne and chili peppers are now grown on all continents, today
China, Turkey, Nigeria, Spain and Mexico are among the largest
Cayenne pepper is not a commonly allergenic food,
is not included in
the list of 20 foods that most frequently contain pesticide residues,
and is also not known to contain goitrogens, oxalates, or purines.
Introduction to Food Rating System Chart
The following chart shows the nutrients for which
this food is
either an excellent, very good or good source. Next to the nutrient
name you will find the following information: the amount of the
nutrient that is included in the noted serving of this food; the %Daily
Value (DV) that that amount represents (similar to other information
presented in the website, this DV is calculated for 25-50 year old
healthy woman); the nutrient density rating; and, the food's World's
Healthiest Foods Rating. Underneath the chart is a table that
summarizes how the ratings were devised.
|| 2.72 mg
|vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
|| 0.08 mg
|| 0.08 mg
|| 0.96 g