Cayenne variety of chili pepper plant is native to Central American region where it was used as a spicy ingredient in Mexican cuisines for several thousand years. The spice was introduced to the rest of the world, especially in the Indian subcontinent, by Spanish and Portuguese explorers during 16th and 17th centuries. They are now one of the important commercial crops in India, Pakistan, China, Argentina and USA. Fiercely hot and pungent cayenne pepper is one of the widely used spicy ingredients in many cuisines. Cayenne fruits are long thin pods obtained from the plant belonging to the nightshade family of Solanaceae, of the genus; capsicum. Scientific name: Capsicum annuum var. annuum. Cayenne peppers are also good in B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish. B-complex vitamins facilitate cellular metabolism through various enzymatic functions.
Fresh cayenne peppers, red or green, are rich source of vitamin-C. 100 g fresh chilies provide about 76.4 mg or about 127% of RDA. Vitamin-C is a potent water soluble antioxidant. It is required for the collagen synthesis in the body. Collagen is the main structural protein in the body required for maintaining the integrity of blood vessels, skin, organs, and bones. Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body protect from scurvy; develop resistance against infectious agents (boosts immunity) and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.
Cayenne chili peppers are perhaps the richest source of vitamin A among spice. Just 100 g of cayenne has 41,610 IU or astoundingly 1387% of vitamin A. In addition, this prized spice is also home for anti-oxidant flavonoids such as carotenes, lutein, zea xanthin and cryptoxanthin. Together, these antioxidants in capsicum help to protect the body from injurious effects of free radicals generated during stress, and disease conditions. 100 g of cayenne peppers provides 2014 mg or 47% of a daily-required amount of potassium. Potassium is an important electrolyte in the cells and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. It thus counters the bad effects of sodium.
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