Why are health food advocates so excited about cayenne pepper? It is an acquired taste among children and even many adults find it too strong. What is this spice, why should we love it, and how can we add it to the average North American diet?
Where Is Cayenne from?
Since this bright red spice is derived from a hot chili pepper, it’s no surprise this plant grows easily in hot climates such as Mexico, Brazil, Africa, and so on. Consumers in northern regions can also grow the plant if they have a hothouse or a greenhouse and are able to monitor the temperature.
Experienced and novice gardeners alike can successfully grow these and other hot peppers such as jalapenos and banana peppers with a little practice and advice. The spice is created by drying cayenne peppers and crushing them, although they can also be eaten as a food rather than a seasoning if you have the stomach for hot vegetables. While they resemble red peppers, there is a big difference in their flavor and effect.
Using Hot Peppers
When cooking with cayenne peppers and jalapenos, one must never get the juice near their eyes and it is best to avoid contact with the skin. Wearing gloves is advisable. A little goes a long way, so slice finely and discard the seeds or dry them to grow more cayenne pepper plants. Also, fresh is best. When cayenne pepper has been in the cupboard for a long time it loses its efficacy. Throw it out after no more than 6 months and store it in an air-tight container.
Properties of Cayenne
Holistic practitioners believe cayenne is a special food with many potential healing properties. It’s ironic that something which can cause your lips, mouth, and skin to burn can also act as an anti-inflammatory for individuals with stomach problems, digestive issues, arthritis, or allergies. It is also used to treat common bacteria, fungus, and more. Personal reports from many people suggest headaches, even migraines, can be treated by drinking cayenne in a tea or cold drink.
More Uses for Cayenne
This common spice is touted as a detox and weight loss product, especially when combined with lemon juice in a drink. You might have heard of the lemon-juice diet. This is a harsh and demanding weight loss regimen in which the participant consumes mostly liquids, including a drink made from filtered water, honey, pure lemon juice, and cayenne pepper.
Even consumed as a drink without the difficult diet plan, cayenne can cause natural elimination of toxins. Put cayenne on your eggs each morning and studies show you could still lose weight.
The Cancer Connection
You can’t get away from associations between cancer-fighting possibilities and any so-called super-food. Cayenne might have some effect on cancer, but studies can’t prove this as yet. You can’t go wrong with a natural food which is rich in calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Niacin, Iron, and more.
Minerals help, like calcium, and high doses of potassium found in the plant help to regulate your blood pressure. Vitamin K is associated with bone health and blood clotting. Vitamin C is an antioxidant; a fighter of cancer-causing free radicals. Niacin is one of the B-vitamins, important for heart health.
Most people aren’t used to eating these peppers raw or even cooking with them. Start slowly with a few very finely chopped slices or diced pieces in a salad or sprinkled over a pizza with milder ingredients. Slowly you can introduce more of this vegetable to a dish.
Stuff them with Monterey Jack cheese and roast the peppers wrapped in bacon. A dash will do if you are making a dish with chorizo sausage. Never sneak hot spice into a person’s meal; some people react violently to the heat.