From Mexico to Africa to India and beyond, the cayenne pepper is a vital part of many cultures' traditional cuisines. That isn't only down to its satisfyingly spicy flavor; folk medicine has long recognized cayenne's remarkable health-giving properties, the potency of which science is now beginning to confirm. Here are just some of the benefits including cayenne in your diet can bring.
Effective Anti-Inflammatory Action
Perhaps surprisingly for such a spicy fruit, cayenne peppers contain potent anti-inflammatory agents. The capsaicin compounds which give the peppers their heat also work to calm upset stomachs, ease sore throats, soothe muscle aches, and even lighten the joint pain of arthritis.
Strong Anti-fungal Properties
Laboratory tests have shown that the substance CAY-1, which cayenne is rich in, is highly effective against 16 significant types of fungus. It's widely believed therefore to be an excellent way of preventing and treating fungal and yeast infections across the body, as well as working to prevent bad breath.
Cayenne is a notable booster of digestive function, which is one of the main reasons it has found its way into so many spicy cuisines. It's helpful from the very start of the digestion process by boosting saliva production, but it also increases the number of enzymes and gastric juices in the gut. Additionally, it also stimulates the natural muscle contractions in the digestive tract, known as peristaltic motion, which leads to more efficient and predictable digestion.
Helps with Detox
Its digestion-boosting properties also help as part of a detox diet by flushing impurities from your system more quickly. Added to this, in more substantial amounts it also induces sweating to further clear toxins more efficiently.
Better Heart Health
Cayenne has been shown to help increase blood flow by clearing arteries and veins of lipids, while also reducing the formation of clots. Both of these actions significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.
Assists Weight loss
Cayenne pepper offers a three-pronged attack for assisting weight loss. Firstly, it boosts metabolism to burn through calories more quickly, even without exercise. Secondly, it suppresses appetite by making you feel more satisfied more quickly. Lastly, it works to balance blood sugar levels, and so reducing the hunger pangs that can ruin a diet.
Lovers of spicy food will recognise the peaceful feeling experienced after an unusually hot meal. That is down to the capsaicin compounds which abound in cayenne prompting the production of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, and mood stabilisers. Cayenne is therefore considered a useful ingredient for those suffering from depression and anxiety, although it is not a replacement for medical help.
Lastly, cayenne pepper has been shown to relieve the symptoms of migraine in some sufferers. As well as the endorphin-raising effects which dull the unpleasant migraine sensations, the burning feeling in the mouth that cayenne causes can deplete the body of the neurotransmitters which send pain signals to the brain. In effect, cayenne's hotness overwhelms the migraine symptoms.
Cayenne crams a lot of health benefits into its small but spicy package, and it's worth adding to your diet if you suffer from any of these maladies. However, if you're currently taking medication or are undergoing any other form of treatment, check with your doctor before significantly increasing your cayenne consumption.