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18 Interesting Facts About Cayenne

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Cayenne pepper is a popular spice known for its fiery heat and bold flavor. Derived from dried and ground chili peppers, cayenne has been used for centuries in cuisine and herbal medicine.

Beyond its culinary applications, cayenne pepper offers some powerful health benefits. Its active ingredient, capsaicin, has natural pain-relieving, metabolism-boosting, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Read on to learn 18 fascinating facts about this versatile red spice.

Interesting Facts About Cayenne

Clagett Farm Cayenne Peppers
Clagett Farm Cayenne Peppers by krossbow is licensed under CC BY 2.0 .

1. Cayenne Gets Its Name from a City

The name “Cayenne” comes from the capital city of French Guiana, a country located on the northeast coast of South America. Cayenne peppers were originally grown in the tropical region surrounding this city.

2. Christopher Columbus Brought Cayenne to Europe

Cayenne peppers are native to Central and South America. In 1493, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus acquired the peppers during his voyages and brought them back to Europe. This allowed cayenne to spread worldwide as a popular culinary spice.

3. There Are Different Types of Cayenne Peppers

While most cayenne peppers are long and red, there are actually many different varieties. Some other types include:

  • Anaheim: Mild flavor, pale green color
  • Cherry: Small round shape, bright red hue
  • Jalapeño: Medium heat, green or red when ripe
  • Habanero: Very hot, light green/orange color

4. The Scoville Scale Measures Spiciness

Cayenne peppers measure 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) on the Scoville scale. This scale measures the pungency or “spicy heat” of chili peppers. Bell peppers rank at 0 SHU, while habanero can score over 300,000 SHU!

5. Cayenne Has Been Used Medicinally for Centuries

Cayenne pepper appears in traditional Asian and Native American medicine dating back over 9,000 years. Indigenous cultures used cayenne to stimulate circulation, aid digestion, and relieve pain when applied topically.

6. Capsaicin Is What Makes Cayenne Hot

The fiery heat of cayenne peppers comes from a natural chemical called capsaicin. When eaten, capsaicin triggers pain receptors in the mouth, causing a burning sensation. Capsaicin also offers analgesic effects, blocking pain signals to the brain.

7. It Boosts Metabolism and Fat Burning

Multiple studies show that consuming cayenne pepper increases metabolism and promotes fat burning, especially of “belly” fat. Capsaicin increases body temperature and metabolic rate after meals.

8. Cayenne Promotes Heart and Vascular Health

cayenne pepper plant
cayenne pepper plant by JKD Atlanta is licensed under CC BY 2.0 .

Cayenne peppers contain antioxidants that benefit heart health by reducing inflammation and plaque buildup in arteries. Capsaicin also helps thin blood, regulate blood pressure, and improve circulation.

9. It Soothes Upset Stomach

While spicy for most, cayenne strangely has the power to calm digestive issues like gas, bloating, cramps and diarrhea. It stimulates the production of stomach acid and intestinal enzymes to aid digestion.

10. Cayenne Has Anti-Irritant Properties

When applied topically, cayenne pepper acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic. Its active component, capsaicin, inhibits Substance P, a neurotransmitter that sends pain signals to the brain.

If you’ve tried Tabasco or Cholula hot sauce, you’ve tasted cayenne! Along with other hot peppers like jalapeños, cayenne is a popular ingredient used to make zesty table sauces.

12. Cayenne Is An Excellent Source of Vitamin A

This fiery red spice is packed with vitamin A. You get 44% of your recommended daily intake in just two teaspoons of cayenne pepper! Vitamin A supports healthy vision, bones, and immune function.

13. It Contains Antioxidants That Fight Free Radicals

Mmm... red pepper salsa-some cayennes for a little heat
Mmm… red pepper salsa-some cayennes for a little heat by jeffreyw is licensed under CC BY 2.0 .

Cayenne is rich in antioxidants like vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, flavonoids, and carotenoids. These compounds neutralize cell damage from free radicals and oxidative stress linked to chronic diseases.

14. Cayenne May Have Anti-Cancer Activity

Early research indicates that capsaicin exhibits anti-tumor activity, inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. While human trials are still needed, these findings are promising for cayenne’s cancer-fighting potential.

15. It Repels Garden Pests Naturally

Don’t want insects attacking your garden goodies? Sprinkle cayenne pepper powder onto plants as a natural pest repellent. The chemical compounds will irritate soft-bodied pests and keep them away!

16. Cayenne Can Be Used to Make DIY Heating Pads

For aches and pains, combine cayenne with flaxseed and essential oils to create a homemade heating pad. The capsaicin offers natural pain relief as the flax holds heat against sore muscles.

17. Too Much Cayenne Can Cause Stomach Irritation

While beneficial in smaller doses, consuming too much cayenne pepper can irritate the gastrointestinal tract. Those with stomach ulcers or inflammation should use caution when adding cayenne to meals.

18. Cayenne Allergies Are Rare But Possible

True cayenne pepper allergies are uncommon, but sensitivity has been reported. Reactions are typically mild, causing symptoms like hives, runny nose, or upset stomach after consuming cayenne.

Conclusion

With its spicy kick and wealth of nutrients, cayenne pepper offers some exciting health benefits beyond heating up your favorite dishes. From soothing stomach troubles to fighting inflammation and even cancer, cayenne is a simple spice with powerful effects on the human body.

So don’t be afraid to turn up the heat and add a dash of cayenne for a little flavor and fire! Moderation is key, but this red-hot chili pepper can be a tasty addition to both your meals and herbal medicine cabinet.


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