Cayenne pepper is a medium spicy variety of chilli pepper (30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units). The cayenne plant is native to Central and South America. Cayenne pepper is a common ingredient in recipes like chilli con carne.
The chillis are a fiery red colour and can grow up to 30cm in length. They are usually dried and sold as a powder and you can also find them fresh. Not only are they great for cooking, but cayenne peppers also contain lots of beneficial nutrients.
If you can’t get your hands of cayenne pepper you can replace it with chilli powder.
The Scoville scale
The official scale that measures the level of spice is called the Scoville scale. This scale measures the level of capsaicin in food.
Capsaicin is a chemical present in chilli peppers that activates certain neurons in your body. These neurons are the same receptors that are activated by extreme heat so essentially capsaicin tricks your brain into believing that your mouth is on fire – that’s why you feel a burning sensation.
The Scoville scare measures the amount of water is needed for the capsaicin content to be diluted before it is no longer detectable to humans.
Bell peppers score a 0 whereas a Scotch bonnet pepper can reach over 300,000.
Cayenne pepper nutrition
Capsaicin is the active ingredient in cayenne peppers. It doesn’t just give the peppers their heat and flavour but it is has been proven to have positive effects on your body. It’s a common ingredient in topical creams and ointments for arthritis, It has shown to lower blood cholesterol levels and speed up your metabolism! In the body, capsaicin is converted into vitamin A which can give help boost your immune system!
Cayenne peppers contain little fat, carbohydrates, fibre and protein. Per 100g of powdered cayenne pepper, there are about 318 calories.