Nutmeg. Cinnamon. Cloves. Cayenne Pepper? Here's a spice worth including in your dishes this holiday season.
Meet capsaicin. Although it's found in tiny amounts in oregano, cinnamon, and even cilantro, it is popularly know for being the main active ingredient in peppers of the genus Capsicum (i.e. cayenne pepper). In fact, it is the ingredient that gives you that burning sensation when eating hot peppers.
It's not just a culinary seasoning, though. Amongst many other roles, capsaicin is a digestive aid and a decongestant.
Who would'nt benefit from a digestive aid this holiday season? Capsaicin improves digestive health in many ways. It stimulates stomach activity and normal flow of digestive juices. Capsaicin also prevents excessive acid secretion and actually stimulates alkali secretion to help prevent or even heal gastric ulcers.
Capsaicin also makes the intestine more permeable to nutrients so that more nutrients are absorbed. Capsaicin can even modestly boost metabolism. Numerous research studies show that it's attractive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are well-established.
Capsaicin can also help you fight the cold weather this winter. It offers relief from sore throats, congestion, and colds. Your body may respond to a simple tea made from capsaicin. All you need is about half a teaspoon of powdered cayenne pepper, a cup of boiling water, and some determination to drink this tea about 3 times a day. Let the tea cool and gargle it for sore throat relief.
Don't limit yourself to cayenne peppers, though. There are a vareity of nutrient-packed peppers you can include in your diet fresh or pickled for the winter. Their rich in vitamin C, potassium, and even B vitamins for normal energy production.
Try poblano, serrano, jalapeno, or habanero peppers in different recipes, such as guacamole.
Open Heart 2015;2: doi:10.1136/openhrt-2015-000262