Cayenne (C. annuum)

The cayenne pepper, also known as the Guinea spice, cow-horn pepper, red hot chili pepper, or in its powdered form, red pepper, is a cultivar of Capsicum annuum, which is related to the bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, and paprika.1

Cayenne peppers get their heat from compounds called capsaicinoids, the most researched being capsaicin, a powerful phytochemical responsible for many heart healthy and anti-cancer properties. Capsaicin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, stimulates metabolism, and may enhance the absorption of nutrients by enlarging the villi-tiny hair-like structures in the small intestine that transport vitamins and minerals into the bloodstream.3 Scientists also believe capsaicin extract may inhibit harmful bacteria in the gut.3 Latest findings also demonstrate a significant reduction in the proliferation of cancer cells in the lungs, pancreas and prostate of mice.4

Adverse reactions to capsaicin may include anti-coagulate properties and worsening of gastrointestinal conditions such as heartburn, ulcers and GERD.4 It is advised that people on medications for hypertension (ACE inhibitors), stomach acid reducers, aspirin or blood-thinning medications and diabetes medications consult with their doctor before using capsaicin for medicinal purposes.

Photograph showing a cayenne pepper

One tablespoon of cayenne pepper contains:1
17 calories
1 gram of fat
2 milligrams sodium
3 grams carbohydrate
1 gram dietary fiber
1 gram sugar
1 gram protein
44 percent vitamin A

Vibrant color is important in choosing the most flavorful and powerful qualities of dried or fresh peppers. All varieties; ghost, chili, poblano, habanero, jalapeno, are easy to grow at home for greatest bioavailability. Peppers are classic additions to sautéed vegetables, omelets, lentils, and Mexican cuisine.