This week I am doing a Spice Special! Each day there will be a short post (as opposed to my usual 1500 work essays!) about a specific spice, what it's benefits are and how to incorporate it into your daily life. Today's spice is cayenne pepper.Cayenne pepper is a hot spicy, used in Asia for spicy dishes. It's usually a bright red powder, but you can also use it as a whole chilli pepper or as a vinegar sauce. It contains a lot of vitamin A as well as vitamins B6, E and C and magnesium, potassium and riboflavin. However, we eat such a small amount of it at a time that it doesn't count towards our intake of these nutrients.
What it does for you
Aids Weight Loss
Cayenne peppers contain capsaicin. This is the chemical that causes the burning sensation when you eat it. It also dilates the blood vessels and speeds up the metabolism, causing the body to produce more heat and therefore burn more calories. Capsaicin also promotes stable energy levels by regulating blood glucose and curbs your appetite so you don't need that sugar rush to get you through the afternoon.
Helps Organ Function and Digestion
The increased blood flow caused by the dilated blood vessels means that your body has better circulation. Your organs are therefore more oxygenated and nutrients can be delivered around the body more easily. This means that the digestive system functions better. It's also aided by the spice stimulating the peristaltic motion of the intestines. This is when your digestive tract basically contracts like a worm in the direction of your mouth to your bowels, pushing everything through. As well as this, it lowering high blood pressure and helping with liver function and mucus production in organ membranes.
Relives Cold and Flu Symptoms
The increase in mucus production in the respiratory pathways causes them to clear out. Adding cayenne pepper to your food will clear your stuffy nose. The heat from the pepper raises your body temperature, making you sweat out the toxins building up from the infection. Cayenne pepper also enhances your immune system with beta carotene and antioxidants.
This one is interesting. Basically how it works is that cayenne pepper reduces an existing pain by causing a new pain so it redirects your brain's attention. When you apply it to the skin, cayenne pepper creates a burning sensation so your pain receptors there over-ride the ones that are currently activated. This has been used for migraines, arthritis, nerve and joint pain and shingles. Cayenne pepper also reduces the amount of Substance P produce. Substance P is a peptide involved in the pain pathway to the brain.
Prevents Blood Clots
Again, due to the blood vessel dilation, blood passes easily around the body and doesn't clog up veins and arteries. This also helps with maintaining healthy heart function.
Is an Anti-Irritant
Capsaicin, that magical chemical, has anti-irritant properties that make it a good remedy for diarrhea, coughs, upset stomachs and even stomach ulcers, especially with it stimulation of mucus secretion. It's also inhibits acid production so despite its spicy nature, it does not aggravate stomach ulcers.
How to use it
Cayenne pepper can be added to almost anything to give it a bit of spice. You can use it as a sweet chili salad dressing by adding it to oil and vinegars, add it to a spice mix for curries or marinades, or just sprinkle on your meat, fish or veggies as you cook them.
You can apply to the skin in creams as a deep heat for pain relief.
I'm not a big fan of hot, spicy food; my general tolerance level of spice is pepperoni pizza! But I am trying and getting better with it. I'm going to attempt to add some cayenne spice to at least some of my dishes now. What's your favourite spice to spice up your food with? Let us know in the comments how you use it and don't forget to subscribe to keep up to date with the awesomeness of Spice Special week and much, much more!
Subscribe for Updates!