The benefits of cayenne pepper: From weight loss to pain relief

Here are five good reasons to spice up your life.

Looking for a little spice to add to your life – or diet? Cayenne pepper may be the answer to your problems. There are a variety of health benefits associated with this famous red pepper, as well as versatility in your cooking.

According to registered dietitian Alexis Supan, RD, cayenne peppers are a wonderful addition to a healthy diet. Cayenne pepper deserves a place in your kitchen cabinet – and here’s how you can use it.

Cayenne pepper: what is it?

The cayenne pepper has a glossy, cherry-red color and is long and skinny. This spicy pepper is a member of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, along with eggplants, potatoes and tomatoes. A well-known addition to cuisines around the world, cayenne peppers originated in South America.

The heat level of cayenne peppers is medium-to-high. Spicy food lovers may be acquainted with the Scoville scale. 

On one end are unspicy bell peppers, on the other are ghost peppers and Carolina reapers that can deliver some powerful heat. Jalapenos pack about 5,000 Scoville Heat Units, while cayenne peppers pack 30,000 to 50,000.

The benefits of cayenne pepper: From weight loss to pain relief

What is cayenne pepper good for?

Cayenne peppers are a good provider of nutrients, as are most colorful fruits and vegetables. They are particularly rich in:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin K

Cayenne peppers contain 72% of your recommended daily amount of vitamin C and 50% of your recommended daily amount of vitamin A, according to Supan. Powdered peppers contain fewer vitamins than fresh peppers. 

It’s still a good source of vitamin A, though, she says. Just one teaspoon provides 15% of your daily vitamin A requirements. And vitamin A is an essential nutrient. It plays a vital role in:

  • Vision
  • Reproduction
  • Immune system health
  • A proper functioning heart, lungs and kidneys

More cayenne pepper health benefits

Besides their vitamin content, cayenne peppers have many health benefits. Many of their benefits come from capsaicin, which gives all peppers their spicy kick.

Why are cayenne peppers healthy? Here are some good things that cayenne pepper can do [1].

Contains healthy plant compounds

Aside from antioxidants, cayenne peppers contain other plant compounds that promote our health and protect our cells. The antioxidants in plants, as well as flavonoids and carotenoids, are naturally occurring compounds.

In the presence of harmful substances in the environment, these compounds protect our cells against damage. Supan explains that they prevent our cells from aging.

Certain cancers and heart diseases can be prevented by eating a diet rich in antioxidants. Cayenne peppers are an excellent source of these potent compounds. Twenty hot peppers were compared in one study for antioxidant levels and cayenne peppers received great marks [1].

Maintains your heart’s health

It is possible to protect your heart health in several ways by consuming cayenne peppers. Capsaicin, for example, appears to protect the body against inflammation. 

Inflammation contributes to many types of diseases, among them heart disease. “In addition to maintaining healthy blood vessels, cayenne peppers may also lower blood pressure, says Supan.

Researchers found that people who often consumed chili peppers were less likely to die than people who avoided spicy fare [2]. Why? Spice lovers had a lower risk of heart attack and stroke.

Cayenne pepper also reduces people’s tendency to reach for saltshakers when they season their meals with it. “Salt isn’t that good for your heart,” Supan says. “If you eat more cayenne pepper, you may be able to reduce your salt intake.”

Enhances digestion

Many people associate spicy foods with heartburn or an upset stomach. However, Cayenne pepper can have the opposite effect for many people. 

The good bacteria in your gut can also be boosted by spicy foods such as cayenne pepper, as Supan explains. Cayenne pepper helps break down food by increasing gastric juices and stomach enzymes. 

The microbiome is a community of bacteria in your gut that are vital for a healthy immune system. It has been suggested that capsaicin may help promote a healthy microbiome.

The spicy food can trigger heartburn in some people. Don’t force it if you don’t like it – your body will tell you.

The benefits of cayenne pepper: From weight loss to pain relief
Photograph: YuriArcursPeopleimages/Envato

Keeps you in a healthy weight range

Spicy foods can boost your metabolism, helping you burn calories. They can also make you feel fuller after eating. Cayenne peppers and other capsaicin-containing spicy foods may help you lose weight.

It is not enough to overcome an unhealthy diet,” Supan warns, but spicy foods can suppress appetite and promote weight loss. Furthermore, spicy, flavorful foods tend to be more satisfying. It’s less likely that you’ll reach for unhealthy snacks and foods when you’re satisfied.

Supan says people who add a lot of spices like cayenne to their diets often feel happier. It is common for people who enjoy these flavorful herbs and spices to eat well as a whole.

Eases pain and clears congestion

There is some evidence that spicy peppers can ease achy (or stuffy) heads [3]. Supan says spicy foods can help clear congestion when you’re stuffed up.

If your head is pounding, try spicy chili or tacos. According to her, cayenne peppers can also relieve headaches.

Topical capsaicin can also be used to treat pain. The potent spice can be rubbed on your skin to alleviate arthritis pain.

Uses for cayenne pepper

You can eat cayenne pepper fresh or powdered, says Supan. Cayenne blends well with every type of cuisine, unlike many spices and is used in dishes from almost every country in the world [4].

This makes it an excellent choice for spice beginners just dipping their toes into the world of hot peppers. Almost any food can be spiced up with powdered spices. Once you have developed a taste for the punchy pepper, there are many creative ways to use it.


Photograph: 5PH/Envato
The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.