The hot and spicy cayenne pepper (capsicum annuum) has long been touted as a metabolism booster and stomach aid. While it won’t help you burn fat for an extended period of time, it actually does kick your metabolism up a notch after you eat it. Science has also proven it to be a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. Basically, we all need a little more heat in our lives.
History of Cayenne
Related to jalapeños, bell peppers and paprika, cayenne is a member of the Capsicum family, and gets its name from the city of Cayenne in French Guiana.
Chili peppers like cayenne originated in Central and South America, and were initially used as decoration before people realized their culinary and medicinal purposes.
Christopher Columbus “discovered” these spicy little guys while he was traipsing around the Caribbean, and brought them with him when he traveled back to Europe as a substitute for the then-expensive black pepper. Now they’re grown all over the world.
How Cayenne is Grown / Prepared
Cayenne peppers need approximately 100 days to mature, and the plants grow best in warm climates with moist, nutrient rich soil. The peppers themselves are typically either dried and crushed, or used fresh.
A little goes a long way with cayenne, and the heat can be reduced by removing the seeds. (Just make sure you’re wearing gloves and don’t touch your mouth or eyes afterwards!)
Straight up, cayenne is spicy. The peppers are spicier than most mild jalapeños, and the ground-up spice should be used with sparingly. As with most things, start with a small amount, and then work your taste buds up to a comfortable level of heat.
Health Benefits Of Cayenne
The active component in cayenne that causes the hot, hot, hot! sensation is called capsaicin, and it does a whole lot of good for our bodies, including subduing substance P, a neuropeptide responsible for “inflammatory pain processes.”
Many people looking for a natural topical remedy for chronic joint pain have been known to rub a little bit of cayenne and olive oil on the spots that typically ache. It may cause a slight tingling or burning sensation at first, but after a few days, your body should get used to it.
Researchers at Purdue University found that half a teaspoon of cayenne truly does increase the amount of calories burned via a raised body temperature, and when eaten with meals, may also help suppress appetite.
Because it’s a potent anti-inflammatory (both when used topically or orally), cayenne can be ingested at the first signs of a cold, and is great at clearing out nasal passages and for helping to treat upper respiratory infections.
When it comes to vitamins, cayenne is a great source of vitamins C, A and E.
A Few Good Brands
As with most spices, you want to make sure the ones you’re buying are as minimally processed as possible, and organic when available.
Smoothies With Cayenne
Here are Green Bender, we like ourselves a little heat, and routinely put a dose of cayenne in our smoothies. Here are a few spicy examples:
Spicy Pineapple with Cayenne
Pineapples are loaded with antioxidants, which fight free radicals in the body and help prevent cell damage. The sweet tropical fruit also reduces inflammation, important in combating skin’s redness and puffiness. Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, another antioxidant that helps jumpstart the metabolism to aid in detoxification. Chia seeds contain large amounts of skin-healthy Omega-3s and Vitamin E. Fiber from apple and swiss chard keep the detox going!
Spicy Raspberry Ratatouille
Cayenne has been to known to help with weight loss by burning extra calories and helping to suppress appetite, so if you’re feeling a little sluggish, this is the drink for you. Flaxseed will also keep you fuller longer, while raspberries and red pepper combine to create a tart and fresh sip every time. If you don’t love a hint of spice, don’t worry, this smoothie is amazing without the cayenne as well.
In many countries and cultures, spicy mango is a staple. Sweet potatoes seamlessly blend with mangos for a tropical drink that’s super filling. Hemp seed has many benefits for digestion, hair and skin, hormones, and metabolism. The seeds provide heart-healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, and many other vitamins and minerals. Usher in the warmer weather with this tasty recipe!
Go ahead, live a little. The Orange Zinger is the perfect combination of sweet and heat. While red bell pepper doesn’t get the celebrity superfood status as goji berries or chia seeds, its vitamin A and C and added lycopene (this is what makes peppers so red!) solidifies its standings.
If you’re looking to spice up your life with superfoods like cayenne on a daily basis, join Green Blender today!