Spice up your diet with cayenne pepper for these 6 reasons!

Cayenne pepper is an amazing spice that elevates your dishes and benefits your health. Here are the benefits of this hottest spice you need to know.
cayenne pepper
Know the benefits and side effects of cayenne pepper. Image courtesy: Adobe stock
Shruti Bhattacharya Published: 15 May 2024, 19:30 pm IST
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Are you looking to add some spice to your diet? Incorporating cayenne pepper can be helpful. It is long and slender and has a glossy cherry-red hue. These spicy peppers, also known as Capsicum annuum, belong to the Solanaceae (nightshade) family. Cayenne pepper is named after the city of Cayenne in French Guiana and is native to Central and South America. This pepper has a delicate flavour that has made it a popular addition to various cuisines around the world. Before incorporating it into your diet, know the health benefits of cayenne pepper associated with it.

Health benefits of cayenne pepper

Here are some of the health benefits of one of the hottest spices out there:

1. Supports digestive health

Cayenne pepper stimulates the production of saliva, gastric juices, and enzymes that aid in digestion. This can help improve digestion and nutrient absorption. Capsaicin in it may also help relieve indigestion, gas, and bloating by relieving gas and reducing symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort, found a study published in Experimental Cell Research.

woman with digestive problem
Cayenne pepper, when eaten in moderation, can promote digestive health! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Boosts metabolism and weight loss

Capsaicin is known to increase thermogenesis (heat production) and boost metabolism, which helps burn more calories and aid in weight loss. A study published in the Bioscience Reports suggests that regular consumption of capsaicin-rich foods like cayenne pepper can help reduce appetite, increase fat oxidation, and promote feelings of fullness, leading to potential weight loss benefits when consumed in moderation along with a balanced diet.

Also Read: Eating spicy foods can help you lose weight. Here’s how

3. Rich in anti-inflammatory properties

“Cayenne pepper contains natural anti-inflammatory qualities due to capsaicin, which helps to reduce inflammation in the body. Regular consumption of this pepper may alleviate symptoms of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, joint pain, and muscle soreness, says nutritionist Haripriya N.

4. Improves cardiovascular health

Cayenne pepper can help promote heart health by improving blood circulation and managing blood pressure levels. Capsaicin helps dilate blood vessels, which may improve blood flow and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Chemistry.

5. Improves blood sugar

A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, suggests that capsaicin from cayenne pepper may improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, potentially benefiting individuals with diabetes or insulin resistance. Regular consumption of it may help stabilise blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

6. Rich in antioxidants

“Cayenne pepper is rich in antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, and E, which help combat oxidative stress and protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants in this pepper contribute to overall health and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases associated with oxidative damage,” says the expert.

How to incorporate cayenne pepper into your diet?

Incorporating cayenne pepper into your diet can add a spicy kick to your meals while providing potential health benefits attributed to its active compound, capsaicin. Here are several ways to incorporate it into your diet, as explained by the expert.

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1. Sprinkle on savoury dishes

Add a pinch of cayenne pepper to savoury dishes such as soups, stews, curries, and pasta sauces. It enhances flavour and adds a subtle heat that complements a variety of cuisines.

2. Season vegetables

Toss roasted or steamed vegetables with olive oil, salt, and cayenne pepper before cooking. It gives vegetables a spicy twist and makes them more exciting.

3. Spice up snacks

Mix this pepper into homemade popcorn, roasted nuts, or trail mix for a spicy snack. You can also sprinkle it over roasted chickpeas or kale chips for flavour.

4. Enhance eggs and breakfast dishes

Sprinkle cayenne pepper on scrambled eggs, omelettes, or avocado toast for a zesty breakfast. It can also be added to pancake or waffle batter for a unique twist.

Also Read: Spices for summer: What to eat and what not?

Things to keep in mind!

  • Start with small amounts of this pepper and adjust based on your spice tolerance.
  • Use high-quality grounded or crushed cayenne pepper for optimal flavour and heat.
  • Store it in a cool, dark place to preserve its freshness and potency.
  • Be cautious when handling this spice, as it can irritate sensitive skin or mucous membranes.
cayenne pepper
Be careful when you eat cayenne pepper! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Are there any side effects of cayenne pepper?

Like many spicy foods, this pepper can also lead to some potential side effects, especially when consumed in large quantities. It is also not good for people sensitive to its active compound, capsaicin. While it is generally considered safe for most people when used in moderation, here are some common side effects to be aware of:

1. May trigger digestive issues

Cayenne pepper is highly spicy due to its capsaicin content, which can irritate the stomach lining and cause discomfort, especially in people with sensitive digestive systems. Consuming excessive amounts of this spice may lead to symptoms such as heartburn, acid reflux, nausea, abdominal pain, or diarrhoea.

2. Allergic reactions

Some individuals may be allergic to cayenne pepper or other chilli peppers. Allergic reactions can range from mild symptoms like skin irritation or hives to more severe reactions such as difficulty breathing or anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic response).

3. Skin irritation and burns

Direct contact with cayenne pepper, especially in its powdered form, can cause skin irritation or burns. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or sensitive skin areas after handling this spice to prevent irritation.

4. Increased sensitivity to heat

Regular consumption of cayenne pepper may increase sensitivity to heat, causing a burning sensation in the mouth or throat when consuming spicy foods.

5. Gastrointestinal disorders

Individuals with certain gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastritis, or peptic ulcers may experience worsened symptoms with the consumption of spicy foods such as cayenne pepper. Consuming excessive amounts of capsaicin can adversely impact the mucosa of the gastrointestinal tract, metabolism, digestion, and gastrointestinal disorders in addition to causing discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract, as found in a study published in the Journal of Trends in Food and Science Technology. Avoid or limit this pepper if you have a history of gastrointestinal disorders or consult with a healthcare provider for personalised advice.

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About the Author

Shruti Bhattacharya is a content writer and editor for over 2 years. She specialises in writing on a variety of topics such as wellness, lifestyle, beauty, technology and fashion. Her current focus is on creating factually correct and informative stories for readers. ...Read More

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