Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Nutrition is a vital component of overall health. It’s common knowledge that eating a healthy daily diet can boost your immunity, support muscle growth, help manage your weight, potentially lead to a longer life and so much more.
While there are so-called “superfoods,” the benefits of some might be hyped up more than others. Cayenne peppers, a hot pepper known for its spicy flavor, are one of these hyped-up foods that some may claim enhances sexual performance.
But can cayenne peppers actually do anything besides make your food spicy? We’ll explore whether or not there are benefits of cayenne pepper sexually and if this hot pepper has any other health benefits.
Cayenne peppers — scientifically known as Capsicum annuum — belong to the nightshade plant family. A type of chili pepper that’s typically long, skinny and dark red in color, they have a moderately hot, spicy flavor due to a chemical called capsaicin.
While there aren’t many studies on the benefits of cayenne pepper sexually, there are still plenty of nutritional benefits from fresh cayenne pepper, as well as powdered cayenne pepper.
So if you enjoy dishes with cayenne pepper or like to spice up sautéed food, keep reading to learn how this chili pepper might benefit you, including in the bedroom.
Capsaicin, the compound that gives cayenne peppers their spicy flavor, is linked to some health benefits when consumed via dietary supplements.
So while research on the potential sexual benefits of cayenne pepper is limited, it may be helpful to add them to your diet for overall health benefits.
Cayenne peppers, as well as other spicy peppers, are packed with nutrients, which makes them a great part of a healthy diet.
They’re also low in fat and calories while providing fiber and hydration. A 100-gram raw pepper contains:
88 grams of water
0.4 grams of fat
1.5 grams of fiber
These peppers also contain high amounts of multiple vitamins, such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin K and provitamin A carotenoids.
Vitamin A comes in two forms: provitamin A carotenoids that are found in plant foods, and preformed vitamin A, which are concentrated in animal foods.
The provitamin A carotenoids found in cayenne include alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, which the body can convert into the active form of vitamin A. This vitamin is essential for many health benefits, such as:
Immune system functioning
Male and female reproduction
Another vitamin that provides health benefits and happens to be packed in peppers? Vitamin C, is a nutrient that’s essential for immune health, collagen production and iron absorption, among many other benefits.
Vitamins help the body, including the reproductive system, function efficiently. Although vitamins aren’t a treatment for conditions like erectile dysfunction, research suggests that some vitamin deficiencies might contribute to ED.
A review noted that vitamin C is one of several vitamins and minerals that supports the biochemical pathway that leads to the release of nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide helps create erections by relaxing the soft tissue inside your penis, which allows blood to flow in and make you hard.
However, most studies conclude that additional research needs to be done to further understand the role of vitamins in ED.
Cayenne peppers contain many protective plant compounds that may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in the body, such as carotenoids and flavonoids.
These, along with other antioxidants like vitamin C, may help protect against cellular damage caused by oxidative stress — an imbalance between damaging molecules called free radicals and antioxidant defenses in the body.
Following a diet high in nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich foods like peppers could not only increase your body’s antioxidant defenses but may also protect against certain health conditions like heart disease.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reports that ED is more likely to occur in people who have certain medical conditions.
Common physical causes of erectile dysfunction include heart disease, clogged arteries, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
So, adding antioxidant-rich foods like powdered cayenne pepper to sautéed food could increase your body’s antioxidant defenses and help stave off medical conditions that often contribute to ED.
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As we mentioned earlier, cayenne peppers get their spicy flavor from capsaicin. This compound is what actually has many of the health benefits attributed to hot peppers.
When you consume capsaicin in high-dose dietary supplement form or apply it topically, it may offer several health benefits, including:
However, the studies that point to these benefits were very limited or were conducted on animal subjects.
That means that while the capsaicin found in cayenne peppers may be able to improve your health, more research is needed to fully understand what those benefits might be.
Adding a dash of powdered cayenne pepper to your daily diet might help manage weight — which in turn helps manage erectile dysfunction.
One small study of 25 men and women found that consuming one gram of red pepper in a meal increased core body temperature slightly.
Raising core body temperature is believed to help you burn additional calories. In some cases, participants also had less desire to eat fatty or salty foods after consuming capsaicin.
Those who are overweight may be more likely to have erectile dysfunction. If more research finds that cayenne or capsaicin helps the body burn calories, it could help weight management, which in turn can reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction.
Whether you’re already a fan of spicy foods or are looking to add more spice to your daily diet, cayenne peppers will do the trick.
But these hot peppers might do more than add some kick to your meal — cayenne peppers contain several important nutrients, such as antioxidants, capsaicin, vitamin C and vitamin A.
These nutrients may help improve blood flow, which is essential for erections, but more research is needed to know if there are any real sexual benefits of cayenne pepper.
Vitamin A and C are also two essential nutrients that benefit your overall health and function — including sexual health and reproduction.
If you’re trying to improve your sexual health or are dealing with sexual dysfunction, it’s better to look at your entire daily diet and habits instead of focusing on just one food like cayenne peppers.
Habits like eating more plant foods, reducing stress as much as possible, getting enough rest, and exercising regularly are all much more important for your health than adding any particular food into your diet.
If you do struggle with premature ejaculation, ED or other sexual dysfunction, you can consult with a healthcare professional to figure out the best treatment plan for you.
Some treatments include sex therapy for ED, prescription medications like sildenafil (Viagra®) or tadalafil (Cialis®), or a combination of therapy and medication. It all depends on your symptoms and your needs, which a healthcare provider can help you figure out.