The health benefits of cayenne are primarily due to the fact that cayenne is an excellent source of antioxidants. The most significant one is beta carotene, a carotenoid that is converted to vitamin A in the body.
Vitamin A is essential for the health of your mucous membranes that serve as the body's first line of defense against invading pathogens. Beta carotene has been shown to have an incredibly wide variety of health benefits including prevention of and relief from the symptoms of many degenerative diseases.
Other important nutrients in cayenne pepper are vitamins C and E, B6 and K. It's also a rich source of potassium, manganese, calcium, and dietary fiber.
It's a little-known fact that spices (and herbs) such as cayenne have far greater concentrations of antioxidants than any common fruit or vegetable source. Spices also contain a particularly wide variety of antioxidants as well, making them one of the top antioxidant foods around.
Antioxidants are nutrient compounds found in virtually all plant foods (and also manufactured in your body). The primary job of antioxidants is to protect your cells against the oxidative stress caused by free radicals, considered to be the primary cause of the aging process.
Protecting yourself against free radicals with antioxidants is the most effective way to reduce the risk of many health problems associated with aging. The benefits of antioxidants include powerful protection against all types of degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, macular degeneration, Alzheimer's disease, and many more.
Antioxidants work together, synergistically, and each one has its own specific characteristics and benefits. One antioxidant may work in places in the body where another one can't go, and neutralize free radicals that other antioxidants miss. Therefore, getting the widest variety of antioxidants is just as important as how much of any one antioxidant you get. See my page on How Do Antioxidants Work? to learn more about this.
Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper for Digestion. Hot pepper is mistakenly believed to cause intestinal problems and to be harmful for your digestive system. In truth, cayenne pepper heals stomach tissues, aids in the digestive process, and is associated with a reduced risk of stomach ulcers.
According to Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, consuming cayenne pepper increases the secretion of hydrochloric acid that helps digest food and benefits your digestive system. The capsaicin in hot peppers may also help prevent ulcers by killing bacteria and stimulating your stomach lining to secrete protective buffering juices that prevent ulcers. Cayenne is also shown to also improve the elimination of waste products.
Note: as a precaution, people who have a underlying condition of intestinal disorders should seek medical advice before taking cayenne pepper.
Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper for Your Circulatory System. Cayenne pepper benefits increases your blood flow and strengthens your circulatory system. It shows results within seconds after ingestion. Studies have shown that regular consumption of cayenne reduces the rate of heart attacks.
Cayenne and other red chili peppers have been shown to have even more benefits for your circulatory system. Cayenne reduces blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and platelet aggregation, while increasing the body's ability to prevent the formation of blood clots. World cultures where hot peppers like cayenne are used frequently have a much lower rate of heart attacks and strokes and pulmonary embolism.
Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper Include Natural Pain Relief. Cayenne pepper has been shown to be an effective treatment for getting relief from chronic pain caused by arthritis and also headaches.
Cayenne Pepper Benefits for Respiratory System. Cayenne's peppery heat stimulates secretions that help clear mucus from your stuffed-up nose or congested lungs. A tea made with hot cayenne pepper very quickly drains the mucus membranes lining the nasal passages, helping to relieve congestion and stuffiness.
The health benefits of cayenne are so numerous, ideally you'd want to have some every day. However, as with any herb or spice, you may find it impractical to include cayenne in your meal plans that often. There's an easy way to accomplish this — by making yourself a fresh smoothie every day and adding some cayenne and other spices to your recipe.
Fresh smoothies make for some of the most nutritious, delicious and easy-to-make meals you could imagine. They're a great way to get more of those "good for you" antioxidant-rich foods (that you may not get enough of) into your diet.
I personally use herbs such as basil, cilantro and parsley in my green smoothie recipes to give them more of the benefits of dark green leafy vegetables. Because they're so concentrated with antioxidants, you can use a much smaller amount than you would with other greens like kale or spinach, and they won't overwhelm the flavor of your smoothie recipe.
I don't stop there, either. I like to use other spices such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger, turmeric and others in my smoothie recipes, mostly for their added antioxidant benefits. Once they're blended in with all the other ingredients, you can't really distinguish any one particular taste. You just need to experiment a little to get the flavor just right for you.
To learn more about the art of making smoothies, skip on over to my page on How to Make a Smoothie the Healthy Way and learn all my tricks for making delicious and nutritious smoothies!
To learn more about cayenne and ways to use it:
The World's Healthiest Foods/Cayenne
If you want to get all of the health benefits of cayenne, you'll want to stay away from typical supermarket brands of bottled spices. Most of them are irradiated in order to destroy microorganisms, bacteria, and viruses that might be present.
Irradiation damages the integrity of the spice — destroying vitamins, minerals, proteins and other beneficial micronutrients. Irradiation also creates more free radicals, just the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish by eating spices.
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