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Bird Pepper/Cayenne is officially known as Capsicum annum. Like most colorful produce, cayenne peppers are a good source of nutrients. In particular, they are rich in: Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin K. “If you can get your hands on fresh cayenne peppers, you’ll get a lot more vitamins. One fresh pepper has 72% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C and 50% of vitamin A,” registered dietician Alexis Supan RD says.
The health benefits of cayenne peppers go well beyond their vitamin content. Many of their benefits come from capsaicin, the natural compound that gives all peppers their spicy kick. Let us count the good things that cayenne can do:-
- Provides beneficial plant compounds
“Cayenne peppers are fantastic sources of antioxidants and other plant compounds that protect our cells and promote health,” says Supan. Antioxidants, along with related compounds like flavonoids and carotenoids, are compounds naturally found in plants.
These compounds protect our cells against damage from harmful substances in the environment. “They fight the processes that age our cells to help keep our cells young,” Supan explains.
A diet rich in antioxidants can help ward off diseases, including heart disease and certain types of cancers. And cayenne peppers are a particularly good source of these superstar compounds. In one study, researchers compared antioxidant levels in 20 different hot peppers. Cayenne peppers came out on top.
- Protects your heart
Cayenne peppers can protect heart health in several ways. There’s evidence, for instance, that capsaicin can protect against inflammation in your body. Inflammation plays a role in many different diseases, including heart disease. “Cayenne peppers can keep blood vessels healthy and may help lower blood pressure,” Supan adds.
Researchers found that people who regularly ate chili peppers were 13% less likely to die than people who avoided spicy fare. The reason? Spice lovers had a lower risk of heart-related diseases like heart attacks and strokes.
What’s more, researchers found that when people season their meals with cayenne pepper, they’re less likely to reach for the saltshaker. “Salt isn’t so good for heart health, especially in people with high blood pressure,” Supan says. “Increasing the amount of cayenne pepper you eat might help you cut back on salt.”
- Improves digestion
Lots of people associate spicy foods with heartburn or an upset stomach. But for many people, spice can have the opposite effect. “Cayenne pepper is really helpful for digestion,” Supan explains. “It increases gastric juices and enzyme production in the stomach, which helps us break down food.”
There’s also evidence that spicy foods like cayenne peppers can boost the good bacteria in your gut. The microbiome is a community of bacteria in your gut that are important for a healthy immune system. Capsaicin may help promote a healthy microbiome.
Of course, spicy fare can trigger heartburn in some people. If cayenne pepper doesn’t agree with you, don’t force it. “If your body doesn’t like it, you’ll know,” she says.
- Maintain a healthy weight
Cayenne peppers and other capsaicin-containing spicy foods may help with weight loss. Spicy foods can rev up the metabolism a bit, helping burn calories. It can also help you feel fuller after eating. “The effect isn’t enough to overcome an unhealthy diet,” Supan warns, “but as part of a nutritious eating plan, spicy foods may suppress appetite and help with weight loss.”
What’s more, a spicy, flavorful diet tends to be more satisfying. And when you’re satisfied, you’re less likely to reach for not-so-healthy foods and snacks. “People who use strong flavors and add a lot of spices like cayenne are often happier with their diets,” Supan says. “People who enjoy these flavorful herbs and spices typically eat well overall.”
- Ease pain and clear congestion
Some evidence suggests that spicy peppers are good for an achy (or stuffy) head. “When you’re stuffed up, spicy foods can help clear the congestion,” Supan says. And if your head is pounding, spicy chili or tacos may help. “Cayenne peppers have also been shown to help relieve headaches,” she says. Capsaicin is also used in topical form to treat pain. Creams made from the potent spice can be rubbed on your skin to treat arthritis pain.
How to use cayenne pepper/bird pepper
Fresh or powdered, cayenne pepper is a super addition to your diet, Supan says. “One of the great things about cayenne is that, unlike a lot of spices, it seems to blend with every type of cuisine,” she says. “You can sprinkle a bit of the powdered spice into just about any food. Just experiment until you find the balance you like best.” (Source: – Clevelandclinic.org)