With today’s ever increasing stress at work and in school, people are usually exposed to sedentary lifestyles and bad food habits. The combination of these two factors can have serious and adverse health effects on people. It may lead to deadly illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and certain cancers. It is not surprising then, that people nowadays look for different superfoods that can help them improve their health. One such food item is cayenne pepper.
Cayenne Pepper: A Brief Overview
Cayenne Pepper is a type of chili that is related to jalapenos and bell pepper family of plants. Originally, cayenne pepper is from South and Central America. In the 15th Century, however, it was brought to Europe by none other than Christopher Columbus. Since then, Cayenne pepper has been used extensively in various cultural and ethnic recipes.
In addition, they have also been used for their supposed health benefits and medicinal properties. Cayenne Pepper is highly nutritious and contains various antioxidants. A tablespoon of Cayenne pepper or about five (5) grams of it contains around
- 17 calories
- 3 grams of carbohydrates
- 1.4 grams of fiber
- 0.6 grams of protein
- 1 gram of fat.
Cayenne pepper also contains vitamins A, E, C, B6, and K and various other minerals such as potassium, riboflavin, and manganese. The main medicinal component to cayenne peppers though is capsaicin which also lends the said peppers its spiciness.
The Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne has a number of health benefits that can help any individual achieve his or her health goals. Listed below are some of these health benefits:
Cayenne Pepper can help boost an individual’s metabolism
It can help an individual boost his or her metabolism through capsaicin. This is because capsaicin can help increase the heat produced by the body throughout the day, helping the body increase the calories burned. This is achieved by cayenne peppers through a process called diet-induced thermogenesis. A study showed that people who were given capsaicin for their meals burned 54% more calories compared to those people who were not.
However, it must be noted that taking cayenne peppers to improve the calorie burning capability of the body may not be a viable long term solution as the body eventually adapts to the heat produced by the body due to the continuous use of cayenne pepper. Essentially, the effects of cayenne peppers subside over time as the body adapts to its effects.
Cayenne pepper can enhance the feeling of satiation and decrease the sense of hunger
Cayenne Pepper has been shown to make people feel satiated and therefore eat less all throughout the day. The reason behind this is currently subject for further research but evidence suggests that the consumption pepper can reduce the levels ghrelin in the body which is considered a hunger hormone or hormone that initiates the feelings of hunger in individuals. People who took capsaicin supplementation consumed 10% less food while those who drank beverages with capsaicin consumed 16 % fewer food items. The same individuals who took capsaicin in the study also noted that they felt more satiated even when consuming fewer food items.
Cayenne pepper can help manage blood pressure and control hypertension
High blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases caused by hypertension are some of the major health problems plaguing the modern world at present. Fortunately, capsaicin in cayenne peppers has been shown to possibly manage blood pressure and control hypertension. Animal studies using cayenne peppers showed that consumption of the said chili can lower blood pressure overall and help relax blood vessels helping improve blood flow and circulation and ultimately lower high blood pressure. Further research though, may be needed to further duplicate the results in humans.
Cayenne pepper can help improve the digestive health of individuals
Certain spices and the compounds present in them can also promote improved digestive health. In Capsaicin’s case, it may help encourage the production of digestive enzymes, ensure efficient delivery of the said enzymes for digestion, and can also protect the stomach against infections. Some studies claim that spicy foods can initiate the development of stomach ulcers, cayenne pepper can actually prevent these by stimulating the digestive tract’s protective nerves.
Cayenne pepper can help alleviate pain and discomfort
When applied to the skin as a form of a topical solution, cayenne pepper can be highly effective in alleviating pain and discomfort. This is because of Cayenne Pepper can control the production of pain signaling neuropeptides. With decreased pain signaling neuropeptides, the sensation of pain subsides as well and results in the pain-relieving properties cayenne pepper is known for.
Due to its pain relieving properties, cayenne paper, particularly creams with capsaicin is recommended for the treatment of lower back pain, muscle and joint pain, pain caused by surgery and pain caused by conditions concerning the nerve endings such as shingles. It may be important to mention, however, that the topical application of capsaicin or cayenne pepper should not be used for any bleeding injuries or open wounds.
Cayenne pepper can help address psoriasis
Psoriasis is a certain type of autoimmune disease where the body responds adversely to itself resulting in scaly and itchy red skin. While there is currently no definite cure for psoriasis, the capsaicin in cayenne peppers can help alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis such as redness and itchy skin.
A study revealed that individuals afflicted with psoriasis who then used capsaicin cream experienced reduced and alleviated symptoms of psoriasis resulting in less itching and scaling of the skin. It is possible that the neuropeptide suppressing properties of cayenne pepper may also play a crucial role in alleviating the symptoms of psoriasis. These neuropeptides may also be linked to the symptoms associated with psoriasis such as scaling and itchiness of the skin.