The name cayenne comes from where this spice was believed to originate – the Cayenne region of French Guiana. Cayenne pepper is made from the finely ground seeds and pods of various chilies.
The hot and spicy flavor associated with cayenne pepper is capsaicin, an anti-inflammatory compound that when taken orally or applied topically helps with pain relief.
The hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains. The hottest varieties include habañero and Scotch bonnet as well as cayenne peppers. Jalapeños are next in their heat and capsaicin content, followed by the milder varieties, including Spanish pimentos, and Anaheim and Hungarian cherry peppers.
Cayenne and other red chili peppers have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and platelet aggregation, while increasing the body’s ability to dissolve fibrin, a substance integral to the formation of blood clots.
Not surprisingly, cayenne pepper relieves congestion. But, this spicy herb is most known for its role in cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels and breaking up fibrin, a protein that promotes the formation of blood clots.
Adding red pepper to meals may help you to lose weight as cayenne promotes thermogenesis, or the rate which calories are burned.
According to NutritionData, cayenne pepper has exceptionally strong anti-inflammatory properties (1481 IF rating for 1 tablespoon vs. 493 for 3 oz. of Atlantic salmon), so incorporating cayenne pepper into your meals is part of an anti-inflammatory diet. Cayenne pepper is an excellent source of vitamin A, providing 2,185 IUs per tablespoon, primarily as beta carotene, but also as lutein, zeaxanthin and beta cryptoxanthin.
Adding cayenne pepper to soups and stews helps to offset the sodium content. This spice works well with all types of seafood. Spice up egg salad, tuna salad or chicken salad with a dash of red pepper. Use a splash of olive oil plus a dash of red pepper instead of butter and salt to flavor steamed vegetables.
Cayenne pepper is an ingredient of Worcestershire sauce and is frequently used in curries.
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.