Cayenne pepper – Myth or Not?

We always hear people saying this or that food is “super food”, either it can detox or burn fat in your body (which the terms are quite misleading), or having other benefits that just sound too good to be true. Chilli is one of them.

I always thought this is a fad diet, without much science in it, so I did a bit of reading. There are actually many studies done on this topic. But I’m here only to talk about one type, and most of the researches were done on it – Cayenne pepper.

Here’s a picture of different types of chilli peppers.

Pepper.png

If you like spicy food, you will be happy to read this post. 🙂

Nutrition value

No doubt, chilli peppers have got vitamins and minerals that are needed in our body, those values might not look very impressive in the table below, but the values are according to the weight of 5 grams, and it’s added onto whatever the food you’re making.

Cayenne pepper nutritional value per tbsp (5 g)

Calories 17 kcal Vitamin A 2185 IU (44% DV)
Vitamin C 4.0 mg (7% DV) Vitamin E 1.6 mg (8% DV)
Niacin 0.5 mg (2% DV) Vitamin B6 0.1 mg (6% DV)
Calcium, Ca 7.8 mg (1% DV) Iron, Fe 0.4 mg (2% DV)
Magnesium, Mg 8.0 mg (2% DV) Phosphorus, P 15.4 mg (2% DV)
Potassium, K 106 mg (3% DV) Sodium, Na 1.6 mg (0% DV)
Zinc, Zn 0.1 mg (1% DV) Copper 0.0 mg (1% DV)
Manganese 0.1 mg (5% DV) Selenium 0.5 mcg (1% DV)

DV = Daily Value

Pain relief

Cayenne is normally used as a spice in cooking and the substance that gives cayenne its spicy taste is called capsaicin. Capsaicin may have pain-relieving properties; it reduces the amount of substance P – a chemical in your body which transfers pain signal to the brain. Fewer “pain” messages reach the brain, less pain felt. Capsaicin is used in medical to relieve pain and tenderness.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin condition marked by red, itchy and scaly patches. Capsaicin cream can reduce symptoms like itching and inflammation from psoriasis. Be careful not to apply it on open wounds or cuts on the skin.

Weight loss

Here comes the part many people are interested in!

A few studies suggest that cayenne pepper may help suppress appetite and some suggest that cayenne helps increase core body temperature which would help burn more calories, and therefore promote weight loss. HOWEVER, many of these studies didn’t have proper follow-ups, or many studies combine cayenne or capsaicin with other ingredients, therefore it is difficult to tell whether capsaicin was really responsible for the weight loss. Capsaicin isn’t the magic food for weight loss but some studies suggested that it could play a beneficial role. More research is needed though.

Reduce circulation and heart problem

Cayenne pepper may reduce resting heart rate and improve blood flow; therefore it’s helpful if you have circulation issue with your medications. Some suggests that it may also help lower blood pressure.

Relieving congestion

Many households use cayenne pepper as a home remedy for coughs and congestion. It helps stimulate the release of mucus and opens the airway, or could be just to shrink the blood vessels in your nose. No studies to support this one though.

What are the side effects?

Since cayenne pepper is a strong spice, it may come with some undesired side effects. If consumed in a high dosage without giving your body time to adapt over time, it may cause mouth and throat irritations or even ulcerations in severe cases, stomach and digestive system complications such as diarrhoea and stomach ulcers, as well as severe abdominal pain.

People who are allergic to latex, bananas, kiwi, chestnuts, and avocado may also have an allergy to cayenne, therefore should avoid cayenne pepper.

As cayenne may pass into breast milk, lactating mothers should avoid cayenne as a supplement.

If using cayenne cream, do not apply it on open wounds or broken skin as it can cause skin irritations. Do not use it on young children.

How to incorporate more cayenne pepper in your diet

Important thing to remember is that herb meds are not like pills that will give immediate effects, its effects will only show in time. 😉

When introducing cayenne in your diet, if you decide to drink it with warm water, start with ¼ teaspoon of cayenne powder in a cup of 120ml warm water, 2 to 3 times a day, and gradually increase it to a half teaspoon. You can add some lemon juice for taste and nutrient, or add the cayenne powder in your tea to spice it up.

Or you can simply just add cayenne powder in cooking like a nice and hot curry, chicken stew, spicy soup, tacos, or spice up by adding cayenne powder in your marinade sauce.

NOTE

Remember it’s always your overall eating pattern that matters the most, eat a variety of food rather than focus on the “magic foods”, besides, there is no Magic Food or Super Food after all. *laughs*

Love Tammy xoxo

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