Hot! Hot! Hot! The goods on Cayenne Pepper
By: Leanne Ely
It’s hard sometimes to get your head around the thought of herbs and spices actually providing us with health benefits, but make no mistake, they do! And cayenne pepper is one of those spices that does the body good.
Warning! Cayenne pepper is a member of the nightshade family, see my article about nightshades here, so if you have sensitivity to these foods, try to avoid cayenne. For the rest of us, if you’re eating it in moderation, cayenne shouldn’t wreak too much havoc in our lives.
Besides making bland food taste good, let’s talk about what else cayenne can do for us:
*Prevent ulcers. We all seem to equate spicy foods with causing ulcers, but they actually can help prevent ulcers! That’s because they kind of act like little super heroes once they’re digested, by killing any nasty bacteria that you may have ingested. They also stimulate cells located in your stomach lining to release special juices preventing ulcers from forming.
*Clear congestion. If you have a stuffy nose, try making cayenne pepper tea (add hot water to 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and a squirt of lemon juice) to clear out your nasal passages! Cayenne contains a compound called capsaicin. This is what makes this spice so hot. It actually has been known to clear up sinuses faster than a similar ingredient found in over the counter cold remedies.
*Lower cholesterol. Cayenne has the power to lower triglycerides and cholesterol. It also helps to prevent the formation of blood clots. An interesting note: In cultures where cayenne and other hot peppers are used more commonly than in North America, there are lower rates of pulmonary embolisms, strokes and heart attacks.
*Boost immunity. There’s lots of beta-carotene in cayenne pepper. It’s full of vitamin A (which is sometimes referred to as the anti-infection vitamin), which helps keep our intestinal tract, nasal passages, mucous membranes and urinary tract good and healthy and able to defend our bodies against sickness-causing germs.
*Pest control. If you have an armadillo issue, sprinkle some cayenne on the dirt and they’ll stop rotting around in your garden. Cayenne pepper mixed with water and sprayed on plant leaves can also help rid you of an aphid issue!
Do you make a habit of adding cayenne to foods for flavor or for health reasons?