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Chili peppers are tender, green to red hot peppers about 2 to 5 inches long. The “chili” seasoning you mostly use in pizzerias is the dried, ground version of this pepper.
It belongs to the nightshade family of flowering plants and is related to sweet peppers and jalapenos.
Hot peppers are bright red peppers 2 to 5 inches long and about 1/2 inch in diameter. Hot peppers are usually sold in powdered form, like chili peppers.
The word cayenne comes from the city of Cayenne in French Guiana. Cayenne is great in soups and sauces, on pizzas, as well as over meats and seafoods. Keep it on the table in a shaker as an alternative to salt or pepper.
History of the Cayenne Pepper
Chili peppers are one of the most popular peppers used in the Western Hemisphere. The name of the pepper is taken from the city of Cayenne in French Guiana, where the pepper originated and where its first documented uses were found.
Hot peppers are usually used as a dried spice, which is made by drying and grinding or kneading peppers and baking them into cakes, which are then ground to produce the spice.
Fresh hot peppers can also be used in dishes, but they are hard to find outside of the powdered form.
About Cayenne Chili Peppers
Cayenne is a very popular pepper used in a variety of dishes and flavors. You can buy cayenne pepper in most supermarkets in a variety of forms – the most obvious being red powder, but the majority of cayenne pepper flakes that can be found in the market are cayenne pepper.
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Plus, the vast majority of popular hot sauces rely on chili for part of their kick, especially if the sauce also contains vinegar.
Growing Cayenne Peppers
Cayenne pepper is considered a subtropical to tropical plant natively, but it can be grown as annuals in temperate climates as well.
They can even be wintered if they are protected from frost. Pepper plants like some heat with a longer growing season and lots of sun, although they can react as poorly to excessive heat as to extreme cold.
Plant your seeds when the temperature is at least 60°C (16°C) in well-drained soil. The seedlings should be spaced 18-24 inches apart in a row.
When to Pick Cayenne Peppers
Harvest the chilies when the skin is somewhat waxy and the pulp is firm. If they start to soften, they are likely starting to rot and it is too late to pick them. The color should be a vibrant red and the pods should be 2 to 5 inches long.
You can pick the chilies when they are green, although the flavor will be somewhat grassy and the heat not too intense.
The pods usually mature in 70 days.
Are Cayenne Peppers Hot?
Chili peppers are considered a type of hot pepper, and at 30,000 – 50,000 Scoville thermal units (SHU) on the Scoville scale, they are as hot as serrano peppers.
If you compare that to a typical jalapeno pepper, which averages about 5,000 SHU, the chili is about 10 times hotter.
Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne peppers, is what gives them their medicinal properties.
It also gives them their hot taste. In fact, how hot a cayenne pepper is depends on its capsaicin content. The more capsaicin it contains, the hotter it is.
Here are 8 science-backed benefits of cayenne pepper.
The capsaicin in hot peppers has metabolic-enhancing properties.
It helps increase the amount of heat your body produces, making you burn more calories each day.
It does this through a process called diet-induced thermogenesis, which increases your metabolism.
In one study, people who ate a breakfast containing capsaicin and MCTs burned 51% more calories during that meal, compared to people who didn’t eat either for breakfast.
But while capsaicin helps boost metabolism, the overall effect is minimal.
In another study, people who ate 1 gram of red cayenne pepper burned 10 more calories over four and a half hours, compared to those who ate no cayenne pepper.
It is also important to know that people who regularly consume chili peppers do not continue to reap the same benefits from it over time, as their bodies adjust to the effects.
The capsaicin in cayenne peppers may help boost your metabolism. However, its effect is small and you may build up a tolerance.
Interestingly, cayenne pepper may reduce your hunger and help you eat less and feel fuller for longer.
Several studies show that the capsaicin in hot peppers helps reduce hunger.
How this is done is not fully understood, but one study showed that it reduces production of the hunger hormone ghrelin.
One study showed that people who took capsaicin ate less food throughout the day than those who took none. Specifically, those who took the capsaicin supplement ate 10% less, while those who took a drink containing capsaicin ate 16% less.
People in the same study also reported feeling full, while eating fewer calories.
The capsaicin in cayenne peppers may help reduce your hunger, helping you eat less throughout the day.
High blood pressure is a major health risk worldwide. In fact, more than 40% of adults over 25 have high blood pressure.
Interestingly, animal studies have shown that the capsaicin in hot peppers may reduce high blood pressure.
One study in rats with hypertension showed that long-term consumption of dietary spice containing capsaicin helped lower blood pressure.
Another study showed that capsaicin helps relax blood vessels in pigs, which leads to lower blood pressure.
It is important to note that the above results are animal-based, and the effects of capsaicin may vary in humans. It is best to take these results with caution.
Capsaicin has appeared to reduce blood pressure in animal studies. Human studies are needed before making a recommendation.
Food spices and their active ingredients may provide many benefits to your stomach.
For example, chili peppers may help boost the stomach’s defense against infections, increase fluid production in the digestive system and help deliver enzymes to the stomach, aiding digestion.
It does this by stimulating the nerves in the stomach that signal protection from infection.
While some believe that spicy food may cause stomach ulcers, a review paper showed that the capsaicin in chili peppers may actually help reduce the risk of stomach ulcers.
Cayenne peppers may help improve your digestive health and reduce your risk of stomach ulcers.
Capsaicin has powerful pain-relieving properties when applied to the skin in the cream.
This is because capsaicin helps reduce the amount of Substance P, a neuropeptide produced by the body that travels to the brain to signal pain.
When less substance P is produced, pain signals cannot reach the brain, and feelings of pain decrease.
In addition, it is important to note that capsaicin cream should not be applied to an open wound or broken skin.
Capsaicin has powerful pain relief properties. It relieves pain by reducing the amount of substance P that your body produces.
Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which your body attacks itself.
P Epilepsy is an example of an autoimmune disease that appears as patches of red, scaly, itchy skin.
Currently, there is no cure for psoriasis. However, capsaicin creams can help relieve itching and improve the appearance of areas affected by psoriasis.
One study showed that psoriasis patients treated with capsaicin cream significantly reduced scaling, redness, and spots than patients who received a placebo cream.
Substance P is thought to play a role in psoriasis. As mentioned earlier, capsaicin helps reduce the amount of Substance P that your body produces.
Capsaicin creams may help improve symptoms of psoriasis by helping reduce the amount of substance P produced by your body.
Cancer is a disease characterized by the uncontrollable growth of cells.
The capsaicin in hot peppers shows promise in reducing cancer risk. It may do this by attacking many different pathways in the growth process of cancer cells.
In fact, studies have shown that capsaicin can slow the growth of cancer cells and even cause cell death for many different types of cancer, including prostate, pancreatic, and skin cancers.
While the effects of capsaicin on cancer cells appear promising, it is important to note that the current findings are based on in vitro and animal studies.
The effects of capsaicin on cancer have not been studied in humans yet, so it is wise to take this information with caution.
Capsaicin has shown promise in cancer research, although human studies are needed before any conclusions can be made.
It is easy to incorporate chili into your diet. It comes in many different forms, including whole food, spices, and supplements.
A Wide assortment available on Amazon.
You can add a pinch of chili seasoning to many of your favorite foods, such as eggs, homemade French fries, and even pickles.
Alternatively, you can chop up a whole cayenne pepper and add it to salads.
If you’ve never eaten a cayenne pepper before, be sure to do a small taste test to see if you can stand the heat, as it is very spicy.
Cayenne peppers are easy to incorporate into your diet. Try adding a pinch of it to some of your favorite meals.
9. Anti-irritant properties
Different tissue types in the body can be irritated for any number of reasons—diet, disease, and environmental toxins, to name a few. Ironically, cayenne pepper can help “put out the fire” and relieve upset stomachs, sore throats, coughs, and occasional diarrhea.
10. Eliminates congestion
Are you dealing with stuffed sinuses due to seasonal illnesses or allergies? Cayenne pepper helps loosen and loosen engorged mucus.
11. Resists harmful organisms
When it comes to defending against harmful organisms, chili peppers are the proverbial surgical flamethrower. In vitro tests have found that CAY-1, a compound found in hot peppers, inhibits the development of 16 different fungal strains while remaining completely nontoxic to healthy cells.
12. Headache Remedy
Its ability to relieve a headache may be related to the pepper’s tendency to stimulate a pain response in a different area of the body, thus diverting the brain’s attention to the new site. After the initial pain reaction, the nerve fibers have less substance P (the nerve’s pain chemical), and the perception of pain is reduced.
13. Anti-Redness Properties
Many health ailments result in swelling and redness throughout the body. Cayenne’s ability to soothe systemic cellular distress makes it a great herb for supporting long-term good health.
14. Helps Produce Saliva
Cayenne stimulates the production of saliva, an important component of digestion and oral health maintenance.
15. Support detox
Cayenne stimulates blood circulation and increases the impulses of the lymphatic and digestive systems. Heating the body simplifies the natural process of detoxification. Hot peppers also cause sweating – another important detoxification process. Chili tea, with lemon juice and honey, is an excellent morning beverage to encourage detoxification.
16. Soothes occasional joint pain
High in a substance called capsaicin, cayenne peppers send chemical messengers from the skin to the joint, providing relief from occasional joint pain. For this reason, many people with joint stiffness and pain use creams and lotions that contain cayenne pepper.
17. Helps preserve food
Chili is an excellent preservative and has been used to prevent food contamination from bacteria.
18. Promotes longevity
Study A using data collected from nearly half a million people found that those who ate spicy foods had a 14% chance of living longer than those who did not eat spicy foods. The researchers also found that regular consumption of chili peppers corresponds to lower death rates from respiratory or heart disease.
19. Promotes a healthy body weight
Scientists at Laval University in Quebec conducted a study and found that participants who ate cayenne pepper for breakfast had a lower appetite and consumed fewer calories throughout the day. Chili is also a metabolism booster and helps the body burn excess fat.
20. Promotes a healthy heart
Studies have found that capsaicin supports the heart’s pumping action, as well as stimulates healthy circulation.
21. Remedy for Toothache
When applied directly to the site, cayenne may help ease the discomfort associated with a sore tooth.
22. Topical Remedy
As a poultice, cayenne has been used for snake bites, rheumatism, sores, wounds, and lumbago or lower back discomfort. More research is necessary to confirm its effectiveness.
Cayenne peppers are generally known to be safe to eat.
However, eating too many cayenne peppers in one sitting can cause stomach ache and make you feel sick.
If you are taking medications for high blood pressure, such as ACE inhibitors, check with your doctor before trying capsaicin cream, as it may cause a cough.
Also, if you are taking a blood thinner such as warfarin, check with your doctor before trying cayenne pepper as it may increase the risk of bleeding.
Finally, when applying capsaicin cream to your skin, do not apply it to an open or broken wound
Cayenne peppers are generally safe to eat. However, if you take blood thinners or blood pressure medication, check with your doctor before trying cayenne peppers or capsaicin cream.
The best place to store fresh peppers is in the refrigerator. Simply place the peppers in a plastic bag and store them in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. The optimum temperature range is between 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit.
There is no need to wash the pepper before storing it. It is best if they are dry because water can speed up the rotting process.
This works with hot peppers and sweet peppers.
How Long Will My Peppers Last?
If you store peppers at an appropriate temperature, they will keep for up to two to three weeks. Thick-walled peppers last longer than thin-walled peppers. Whole peppers also last longer than chopped or sliced peppers.
If you notice any signs of rot, including soft or dark spots, you should get rid of them. It is always best to cook with fresh pepper.
Fresh peppers should be shiny and firm to the touch. There should be no wrinkles or changes in color before storage.
The Brine Method
Another option for storing peppers is in a brine. To do this, slice the peppers in half the place them into a sealable jar.
Add enough water to cover, after measuring the number of cups used. Add 1 tablespoon of salt per cup of water. Give it a stir.
Seal, then refrigerate. When ready to use, remove a pepper and rinse off the salt. Use as you would fresh peppers.
Peppers should last about a month this way.
Can I Store Peppers at Room Temperature?
Peppers kept at room temperature can last one to two weeks, depending on the age of the peppers at the time of purchase and on the thickness of the peppers. Thick-walled peppers last longer than thin-walled peppers.
However, keeping peppers at room temperature is not the best method. Pepper begins to rot more quickly, so refrigeration is best. They will stay fresh longer this way.
If you must store peppers at room temperature, put them in paper bags and keep them in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry.
The Bottom Line
Cayenne pepper may have several health benefits stemming from its active ingredient, capsaicin.
It may reduce your appetite and help lower blood pressure, among many other benefits.
If you are concerned that cayenne pepper may interact with your current medications, it is best to consult your doctor.
For most people, chili is a great way to add a boost to your diet.