Cayenne pepper (Capsicum annuum) contains the compound capsaicin, which is present in other types of peppers such as bell pepper, chilis, and jalapenos.
Cayenne pepper is loaded with antioxidants called polyphenols, which protect cells from damage. Cayenne pepper also contains vitamins A, C, E, and B6, as well as minerals such as manganese, copper, zinc, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium).
Although research is limited regarding the health benefits of cayenne pepper, here are 13 potential benefits of including it in your diet.
13 potential health benefits of cayenne pepper
- Helps with weight loss: Capsaicin plays a role in boosting metabolism, reducing hunger, and increasing fat burning. These properties may help with weight loss, especially when coupled with regular physical activity and healthy eating.
- Boosts heart health: Cayenne pepper is rich in compounds called polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties that maintain the health of the heart, brain, and blood vessels. Studies suggest that consuming antioxidant-rich foods may lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack, cancer, and stroke.
- Manage blood pressure: Various antioxidants and other phytonutrients in cayenne pepper may help promote blood flow and blood vessel health. Studies suggest that cayenne pepper helps regulate blood pressure and reduce the likelihood of hypertension.
- Eases arthritis pain: Arthritis causes inflammation of the joints and can result in pain and swelling. Capsaicin in cayenne pepper can help reduce pain by altering the way the nerves in the spinal cord communicate with other parts of the body. Capsaicin-containing formulas are available over the counter in various forms, such as gels, lotions, creams, and ointments, and may provide symptomatic relief.
- Reduces nerve pain: Nerve pain or neuralgia is often linked to conditions such as type I diabetes mellitus, type II diabetes mellitus, and herpes. Capsaicin can be applied as ointment, cream, or gel on the affected area for pain relief. Besides relieving nerve pain in patients with diabetes, cayenne pepper may also regulate blood sugar levels, thereby offering a dual benefit.
- Relieves headaches: Capsaicin in cayenne pepper may help relieve headaches. Nasal sprays containing capsaicin are sometimes prescribed to provide relief for cluster headaches and migraines.
- Improves vision: Cayenne pepper is rich in antioxidants, including vitamins A and C. These compounds help maintain eye health and vision. One fresh cayenne pepper provides about 50% of daily vitamin A requirements and 72% of daily vitamin C requirements. Although processing may reduce the vitamin content of cayenne pepper, even powder forms provide almost 15% of daily vitamin A requirements per teaspoon.
- Aids digestion: Cayenne pepper can improve gut health and help with digestion by increasing the release of digestive juices. It also increases the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
- Relieves congestion: Cayenne pepper consumption may help relieve symptoms of congestion including headache and stuffy nose.
- Strengthens immunity: Cayenne pepper is good for the immune system, helping the body fight infections and allergies.
- Boosts skin and hair health: Cayenne pepper contains antioxidants that nourish and protect the skin and hair and can offer protection from damage and premature aging. Capsaicin may also help relieve the symptoms of skin conditions such as psoriasis.
- Manages toothache: The anti-inflammatory properties of capsaicin can help relieve oral problems such as toothache, sensitivity, and pain after tooth extraction.
- May protect against cancers: Some studies suggest that cayenne pepper may play a role in fighting cancerous cells. Free radical damage to cells often lead to inflammation and cancer, and antioxidants and vitamins in cayenne pepper may help prevent this by fighting cellular damage.
What are the side effects of cayenne pepper?
While cayenne pepper is generally safe in small amounts, some people may develop side effects. Side effects generally develop with excessive consumption and may include:
- Eye irritation:
- Skin irritation:
- Interference with supplements and medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, blood thinners, and certain asthma medications
If you touch cayenne pepper, make sure to wash your hands before touching your skin or mouth. If you are breastfeeding or pregnant, ask their doctor before using cayenne pepper. Avoid cayenne pepper altogether if you are allergic or have conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis, or gastric ulcers.
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Kaiser Permanente. Cayenne. https://wa.kaiserpermanente.org/kbase/topic.jhtml?docId=hn-2065009
University of Rochester Medical Center. Cayenne. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=19&contentid=Cayenne
Cleveland Clinic. Ear Wax Removal 101: The Best (and Safest) Ways to Clear Clogged Ears. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/cayenne-pepper-benefits/e
Healthline. 6 Potential Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-benefits-of-cayenne-pepper#The-bottom-line
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