8 Impressive Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper

What Are Cayenne Peppers?

Cayenne peppers belong to the nightshade family of flowering plants and are closely related to bell peppers, jalapeños and paprika.

They were originally grown in Central and South America, but brought to Europe in the 15th century by Christopher Columbus.

Cayenne peppers are a popular spice used in many different regional styles of cooking, and they have been used medicinally for thousands of years.

These peppers boast an impressive nutrition profile, which includes a variety of antioxidants that are beneficial for your health.

One tablespoon (5 grams) of cayenne pepper contains the following :

  • Calories: 17
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbs: 3 grams
  • Fiber: 1.4 grams
  • Protein: 0.6 grams
  • Vitamin A: 44% of the RDI
  • Vitamin E: 8% of the RDI
  • Vitamin C: 7% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 6% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K: 5% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 5% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 3% of the RDI
  • Riboflavin: 3% of the RDI

Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne peppers, is what gives them their medicinal properties.

It also gives them their hot taste. In fact, how hot a cayenne pepper is depends on its capsaicin content. The more capsaicin it contains, the hotter it is.

Here are 8 science-backed benefits of cayenne pepper.

1. May Boost Your Metabolism

Four Cayenne Peppers

The capsaicin in cayenne peppers has metabolism-boosting properties.

It helps increase the amount of heat your body produces, making you burn more calories per day.

It does this through a process called diet-induced thermogenesis, which causes an increase in your metabolism.

In one study, people who ate a breakfast containing capsaicin and medium-chain trigly ceride oil burned 51% more calories during that meal, compared to people who had neither for breakfast.

But while capsaicin helps boost metabolism, the overall effect is small.

In another study, people who ate 1 gram of red cayenne pepper only burned 10 more calories over four and a half hours, compared to those who didn’t eat any cayenne pepper.

It’s also important to know that people who regularly consume dietary spices like cayenne pepper don’t continue to reap the same benefits from them over time, as their bodies adapt to the effects.

2. Can Help Reduce Hunger

Interestingly, cayenne peppers may reduce your hunger, helping you eat less and feel fuller for longer.

Many studies show the capsaicin in cayenne peppers helps reduce hunger.

How it does this is not completely understood, but one study showed that it reduces the production of the hunger hormone ghrelin.

One study showed that people taking capsaicin ate less food throughout the day than those who didn’t take any. Specifically, those taking capsaicin supplements ate 10% less, while those who drank a capsaicin-containing beverage ate 16% less.

People in the same study also reported feeling fuller, while eating fewer calories.

3. May Lower Blood Pressure

Cayenne Pepper Powder on a Teaspoon

High blood pressure is a huge health risk worldwide. In fact, over 40% of adults over 25 have high blood pressure.

Interestingly, animal studies have shown that the capsaicin in cayenne peppers may reduce high blood pressure.

One study in mice with high blood pressure showed that the long-term consumption of dietary spices containing capsaicin helped reduce blood pressure .

Another study showed that capsaicin helped relax blood vessels in pigs, leading to lower blood pressure.

It’s important to note that the findings above are based on animals, and capsaicin’s effects may differ in humans. It is best to take these findings with a grain of salt.

4. May Aid Digestive Health

Dietary spices and their active components may provide many benefits for your stomach.

For example, cayenne pepper may help boost the stomach’s defense against infections, increase digestive fluid production and help deliver enzymes to the stomach, aiding digestion.

It does this by stimulating nerves in the stomach that signal for protection against injury.

While some believe that spicy food may cause stomach ulcers, a review paper has shown that the capsaicin in cayenne peppers may actually help reduce the risk of stomach ulcers.

5. May Help Relieve Pain

Cream Tube

Capsaicin has potent pain-relieving properties when applied to the skin in a cream.

This is because capsaicin helps reduce the amount of substance-P, a hormone produced by the body that travels to the brain to signal pain.

When less substance P is produced, pain signals can no longer reach the brain, and feelings of pain decrease.

Capsaicin is available as a skin cream and is often recommended for the following conditions:

  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain after surgery
  • Pain from nerve conditions like shingles

Additionally, it’s important to note that capsaicin cream should not be applied to an open wound or broken skin.

6. May Improve Psoriasis

Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which your body attacks itself.

Psoriasis is an example of an autoimmune disease that appears as patches of red, itchy and scaly skin.

Currently, there is no cure for psoriasis. However, capsaicin creams can help relieve itching and improve the appearance of psoriasis-affected areas.

One study showed that psoriasis patients treated with capsaicin cream had significantly reduced scaling, redness and patchiness than patients who received a placebo cream.

It’s believed that substance P plays a role in psoriasis. As mentioned previously, capsaicin helps reduce the amount of substance P produced by your body.

7. May Reduce Cancer Risk

Pile of Cayenne Pepper Powder

Cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrollable cell growth.

The capsaicin in cayenne peppers shows promise in reducing the risk of cancer. It may do this by attacking many different pathways in the cancer cell growth process.

In fact, studies have shown that capsaicin can slow the growth of cancer cells and even cause cell death for many different types of cancer, including prostate, pancreatic and skin cancer.

While capsaicin’s effects on cancer cells seem promising, it’s important to note that the current findings are based on laboratory and animal studies.

Capsaicin’s effects on cancer in humans has not yet been studied, so it’s wise to take this information with a grain of salt.

8. Easy to Add to Your Diet

Cayenne pepper is easy to incorporate into your diet. It comes in different forms, including as a whole food, spice and supplement.

You can add a pinch of cayenne pepper spice to many of your favorite foods, such as eggs, homemade fries and even marinades.

Alternatively, you could slice whole cayenne peppers and add them to salads.

If you haven’t eaten a cayenne pepper before, be sure to do a small taste test to see if you can tolerate the heat, as they are very spicy.