Spicy Facts About Cayenne Pepper
At some point, maybe you’ve wondered, what is cayenne pepper exactly? There are a lot of peppers on the market, so how is this one unique from the rest? How is a cayenne pepper characterized?
The Epicentre Encyclopedia of Spices defines cayenne pepper in terms of cooking by saying, “Cayenne pepper can be used as a spice in cooking, or as a condiment at the table, generally with seafood such as oysters, sardines, smoked salmon and trout, scallops, fried mussels, crab, lobster and crayfish.
Cayenne pepper may be sprinkled over soups and hors d’oeuvres. It can be eaten with eggs cooked in any way, and egg dishes such as omelets and soufflés. It’s good with roasted, grilled, fried or stewed meats. It can be sprinkled on bacon prior to frying and used in the dusting flour for fried chicken, fish and vegetables. It adds piquancy to stews, casseroles and sauces, especially cheese, barbecue and shellfish sauces.
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Cayenne pepper can be used in the making of cheese straws and biscuits, marinades, pickles, ketchups, chutneys and smoked foods. It is an ingredient of Worcestershire sauce and is frequently used in curries.”
In this brain boosting shrimp fajita recipe, we will use cayenne pepper in our shrimp fajitas. But, before we delve into cooking, let us first uncover some more spicy facts about this spice.
There are many uses for cayenne pepper. Remarkably, cayenne pepper even contains medicinal properties.
USDA nutrition facts have been published about cayenne pepper. In one tablespoon, which is equivalent to 5 grams, cayenne contains:
Fat: 1 gram
Carbs: 3 grams
Fiber: 1.4 grams
Protein: 0.6 grams
Vitamin A: 44% of the RDI
Vitamin E: 8% of the RDI
Vitamin C: 7% of the RDI
Vitamin B6: 6% of the RDI
Vitamin K: 5% of the RDI
Manganese: 5% of the RDI
Potassium: 3% of the RDI
Riboflavin: 3% of the RDI
According to Healthline, benefits of cayenne include:
- Cayenne can boost metabolism - The capsaicin in cayenne peppers has metabolism-boosting properties. It helps increase the amount of heat your body produces, making you burn more calories per day. This happens through a process called diet-induced thermogenesis, which causes an increase in your metabolism. In one study, people who ate a breakfast containing capsaicin and a medium-chain triglyceride oil burned 51% more calories during that meal, compared to people who had neither for breakfast. While capsaicin helps boost metabolism, the overall effect is minimal. In another study, people who ate one gram of red cayenne pepper only burned ten more calories over time, as the body adapt to the effects.
- Cayenne can lower down blood pressure - High blood pressure is a critical health risk worldwide. In fact, over 40% of adults twenty-five years of age and older have high blood pressure. Interestingly, animal studies have shown that the capsaicin in cayenne peppers may reduce high blood pressure.
One study in mice with high blood pressure showed that the long-term consumption of dietary spices containing capsaicin helped to reduce blood pressure. Another study showed that capsaicin helped relax blood vessels in pigs, leading to lower blood pressure.
- Cayenne may reduce risks of cancer - Cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrollable cell growth. The capsaicin in cayenne peppers shows promise in reducing the risk of cancer. This may occur 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 in many different types of cancer, including prostate, pancreatic, and skin cancer. While capsaicin's effects on cancer cells seem promising, it's important to note that the current findings are based on laboratory and animal studies.
Surprising Health Benefits and Uses of Cumin
Adam Maskevish explained how cumin has spiced up the world, writing that, “Cumin is essential not just to cooking in India, but everywhere from Cuba, where it features in a garlicky sauce called mojo, to the Middle East, and to China, where it flavors the grilled meats of the country's Muslim minority. In the United States, cumin can be found in an impressively diverse selection of products from chili powder and black bean soup to croutons and kale slaw, as a recent Food and Drug Administration recall of cumin products revealed.”
According to Megan Metrapulos, MS, RDN & Megan Ware, RDN, LD, there are health benefits to cumin.
- A study done by Taghizadeh et al (2015)involving overweight adults compared the effects of cumin with a weight-loss medication and a weight-loss placebo. After 8 weeks, researchers found that the cumin and weight-loss medication groups both lost a significant amount of weight. People in the cumin group also experienced a decrease in insulin levels.
- Zare et al (2014), a study in overweight and obese women also found that consuming 3 g of cumin powder per day resulted in lower total cholesterol, LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
- Type 2 diabetes patients were given cumin essential oil in a study done by Jafari et al, (2017). Study participants received either 100 milligrams (mg) of cumin oil per day, 50 mg of cumin oil per day, or a placebo. After 8 weeks, both cumin-oil groups had significantly lower blood sugar, insulin, and hemoglobin A1c levels. The cumin-oil groups also saw improvements in signs of insulin resistance and inflammation. Other studies in humans have shown mixed results with cumin and blood sugar levels.
In addition, according to Healthline, benefits of cumin include:
- Cumin is a rich source of iron. One teaspoon of ground cumin contains 1.4 mg of iron, or 17.5% of the RDI for adults. Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies, affecting up to 20% of the world's population and up to 10 in 1,000 people in the wealthiest nations. Children need iron to support growth, and young women need iron to replace blood loss during menstruation. Few foods are as iron-dense as cumin, making it a great source of iron, even when used in small amounts.
- In one study, 75 mg of cumin taken twice daily for eight weeks decreased unhealthy blood triglycerides. In another study, levels of oxidized "bad" LDL cholesterol were decreased by nearly 10% in patients taking cumin extract over a one-and-a-half-month period. One study involving 88 women looked at whether cumin affected levels of "good" HDL cholesterol. Those who took 3 grams of cumin with yogurt twice a day, for three months, had higher levels of HDL than those who ate yogurt without it.
- Cumin can prevent Food-Borne Illness. One of cumin's traditional roles in seasoning may have been for food safety. Many seasonings, including cumin, appear to have antimicrobial properties that may reduce the risk of food-borne infections. Several components of cumin reduce the growth of food-borne bacteria and certain kinds of infectious fungi. When digested, cumin releases a component called megalomicin, which has antibiotic properties.
These two spices are the co-stars of the recipe below:
Brain - Booster Shrimp Fajitas½ teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
1 Scoop Momental Mind Unflavored
1 teaspoon cumin, ground
2 lemons, juiced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
450g shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon corn oil
½ onion, white, thinly sliced
2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
Tortillas, for serving
Feta cheese, crumbled
- In a bowl, blend together cayenne pepper powder, MIND, cumin, lemon juice, and olive oil.
- Set aside ¼ cup of this mixture, and pour the remaining into a dish to marinate the shrimp. Marinate for 15 minutes.
- In a large non-stick pan, heat corn oil. Sauté onions, bell peppers, and seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir continuously, until soft and tender.
- Add jalapeno and garlic, cook until aroma comes out. Transfer everything to a mixing bowl.
- Cook shrimp on both sides until pink.
- Serve warm over corn tortillas.