Sprinkling red cayenne pepper on barbecuing chicken gives it a feisty, spicy kick. Squeezing lemon juice onto a salmon fillet imparts a citrusy freshness. Both cayenne pepper and lemon juice offer distinctive taste and nutritional benefits, but be cautious about embracing diets emphasizing these two ingredients as mainstays. Highly restrictive diets, sometimes touted as “cleansing” or “detoxifying” eating plans, haven’t yet been shown to have short-term or long-term benefits to justify the potential negative side effects.
Red cayenne pepper might be an appetite suppressant among both spicy food aficionados and individuals who don’t enjoy spicy foods, according to health columnist Tara Parker-Pope in “The New York Times.” The effect is slightly stronger among people who don’t typically consume spicy foods, however. Consuming red cayenne pepper may also boost metabolism and encourage the body to burn additional calories. Lemon juice might help weight loss by stimulating digestive enzymes and improving indigestion, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. Its acidic qualities may help regulate blood sugar levels, so that after consumption you’re less likely to crave more food. Adding lemon juice to foods can add flavor without additional calories.
In a 2006 study, capsaicin in red cayenne pepper was shown to prevent the growth of cancer cells in the prostate, according to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Capsaicin also helps sinus infections, reduces inflammation and offers gastric relief, according to Medill Reports. In a 2004 study, lemon juice was shown to effectively reduce the presence of human immunodeficiency virus, HIV, in lab dishes, according to ABC News.
The spicy taste in cayenne peppers comes from capsaicin, which also has pain-relieving qualities, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Two tbsp. of lemon juice provides 11 mg of vitamin C.
Some restricted diet plans promote the use of red cayenne pepper and lemon juice to aid in detoxification, cleansing and weight loss. Although lemon juice and red cayenne pepper diets have accumulated somewhat of a cult following, according to “The New York Times,” nutritionists warn against dramatically reducing calorie intake for extended periods of time. This can lead to hunger, dizziness and other problems. Some dieters may find that they quickly regain the weight lost through drinking lemon juice and cayenne mixtures once the diet concludes. A more moderate approach to enjoying the benefits of consuming lemon juice and red cayenne pepper would be to incorporate these ingredients into your regular diet in moderation.
- "The New York Times"; Adding Food and Subtracting Calories; Tara Parker-Pope; May 2011
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Cayenne
- Cedars-Sinai; Pepper Component Hot Enough To Trigger Suicide In Prostate Cancer Cells; March 2006
- Medill Reports; Peppers are Hot; Darren Swan; October 2007
- American Institute for Cancer Research; AICR Health Talk; Karen Collins; January 2011
- ABC News; Lemon Juice may Kill AIDS Virus; July 2004