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Why Is Cayenne Pepper Good for You?

By William Gamonski

Cayenne pepper is part of the Capsicum vegetable family and is used both in medicine and food. It contains the compound capsaicin, which is responsible for most of its effects. Research suggests that cayenne pepper can provide numerous benefits to the body, from lowering blood pressure to combating prostate cancer growth.

Halts Prostate Cancer Growth

Scientists from the University of California examined the effects of capsaicin consumption on prostate cancer growth. In the report, which was published in the March 2006 issue of the journal “Cancer Research,” lead author Akio Mori and colleagues discovered that capsaicin inhibits the protein NF-kappaB, which is active in causing prostate cancer growth. Inhibiting NF-kappaB induces apoptosis, or cell death, in prostate cancer cells.

Increases Metabolism

Researchers from the Mahidol University in Thailand investigated the impact of chili pepper, which contains capsaicin, on glucose levels and metabolic rate in healthy women. Participants drank a glucose drink with or without fresh chili pepper. At 30 minutes after ingestion, lead author P. Chaiyata and colleagues observed that the chili pepper group had lower glucose levels and increased their metabolic rate compared to the group without chili pepper. Scientists reported in the September 2003 issue of the “Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand.”

Lowers Blood Pressure

Cayenne peppers might have blood pressure benefits, according to study conducted by lead author Zhiming Zhu and researchers from the Third Military Medical University in China. They discovered that capsaicin increases the production of nitric oxide, a gas molecule that improves blood vessel function and increases blood flow. This, in turn, reduces blood pressure, the August 2010 issue of the journal “Cell Metabolism” reports.

Reduces Pain

Capsaicin might help reduce the pain associated with arthritic conditions. Capsaicin decreases the production of substance P, a neurotransmitter that releases enzymes that cause inflammation and pain in the body.

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