Whether you’re getting bogged down by the tedium of a healthy but predictable diet or are simply having trouble establishing good eating habits, literally spicing things up can help. 

Although suprisingly high in vitamin A, sporting 15 percent of a daily dose in a teaspoon (based on a 2,000 calorie diet), cayenne pepper has benefits that are a little more intangible than the foods that anchor your meals. Several studies have confirmed the pepper’s benefits appetite-curbing qualities resulting from its main ingredient, capsaicin, which is responsible for a burning sensation on the tongue. However, there appears to be a catch with that. Although you’re more prone to decreasing fatty, sweet, and salty food consumption if you aren’t used to the hot stuff and raise your cayenne pepper intake, a 2011 Purdue study found that participants who were already spice aficionados were less affected. 

Regardless, cayenne pepper provides a solid source of antioxdants, which are effective in the fight against free radicals, according to Sara Haas, R.D.N., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. More importantly, it can take potentially boring foods, such as steamed vegetables, and make them more interesting without the obvious shortcut of adding butter or oil. Haas recommends dashing dried, powered cayenne over roasted brussels sprouts or broccoli or on scrambled eggs. Feel free to go for whole cayenne peppers as well if you want a particularly bold flavor for your next sitr-fry. 

Whey Protein Smoothie

From Indie Fresh at Gotham West Market

Blueberry smoothie

What You’ll Need

Serves 2

  • 2 scoops (52.6g) whey protein (such as GNC Pro Performance AMP Amplified Wheybolic Extreme 60)
  • 1 dropper bulb (0.7ml) Herb Pharm Organic Cayenne Pepper Extract
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup sliced frozen ripe bananas
  • 4 oz coconut water
  • 3 oz Indie Fresh Almond Milk
  • 1/3 cup Indie Fresh Paleo Granola
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1/4 tsp cold-pressed ginger juice
Totals (1 serving): 490 calories, 21g protein, 79g carbs, 12g fat