According to one study, the risk of premature death – including from cancer or cardiovascular disease – is reduced by around a quarter for those who eat chili peppers.
Researchers from the United States found that the anti-inflammatory properties of capsaicin – the compound that gives bell peppers their fiery taste – can have far-reaching health benefits.
This includes fighting tumors as well as inflammation and helping the body control its blood sugar levels.
The "remarkable" results came after the team analyzed the health and nutritional data of more than 570,000 people around the world.
However, the researchers noted that more study will be needed to determine which varieties of chilli offer protection and how often to consume them.
According to a study, the risk of premature death – also from cancer or cardiovascular disease – is reduced by around a quarter in those who eat chili peppers (picture)
EAT CHILLI PEPPER IN LOCKDOWN, EXPERTS RECOMMENDED
Lockdown could give the British an opportunity to include potentially life-saving chili peppers in their meals, according to heart experts.
“A lot of us are cooking more than usual right now,” said British Heart Foundation nutritionist Victoria Taylor.
"Experimenting with herbs and spices can be a great way to liven up your homemade meals and add variety to them in healthy and nutritious ways."
"Fresh and dried chillies, black pepper or lemon juice are healthier ways to add flavor to your meals, which can help us save on salt."
"But watch out for pre-made chilli sauces as well as spice mixes and massages, as these are often rich in salt."
"Use nutritional information on packs to find low-salt options, as too much salt is linked to high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart and circulatory disease."
"If you're looking to try making healthy recipes this winter, the BHF website has some great suggestions."
"Regular consumption of chili pepper has been linked to overall risk reduction from all causes, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality," said study director and cardiologist Bo Xu of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
In their study, the researchers pooled data from four previous health studies conducted in China, Iran, Italy, and the United States.
Dr. Xu added that "Dietary factors can play important roles in overall health."
The team believes that capsaicin – an antioxidant – can help fight inflammation and tumors, as well as help control blood sugar levels, thus protecting against diabetes and obesity.
"I think the results are really remarkable," said Penny Kris-Etherton, nutritionist of the American Heart Association and Pennsylvania State University.
"There were associations with several different diseases and endpoints," she added.
"The authors found that chili pepper consumption was all causes of mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and cancer mortality."
Experiments in mice have shown that capsaicin strengthens the "good" gut bacteria that defend themselves against weight gain by burning fat.
With that in mind, the fiery compound could potentially be used as the basis for an anti-obesity pill.
Previous studies have also shown that consuming chili reduces the risk of a variety of diseases – including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
"The exact reasons and mechanisms that could explain our results are currently unknown," said Dr. Xu.
“Hence, it is impossible to conclusively say that consuming more chilli pepper can extend and shorten life dDiseases, particularly those due to cardiovascular factors or cancer. "
Dr. Xu noted that the studies reviewed by the team contained limited health data about their subjects and could have included other factors that influenced the results.
In addition, the amount of chilli peppers consumed – along with the individual varieties consumed – varied between participants in the various studies, making it difficult to determine exactly what the optimal diet of the fruit might be.
"More research, particularly evidence from randomized controlled trials, is needed to confirm these preliminary results," warned Dr. Xu.
Researchers from the United States found that the anti-inflammatory properties of capsaicin – the compound that gives bell peppers (pictured) their fiery taste – can have far-reaching health benefits
Chili peppers evolved capsaicin – which induces a pain response – to protect themselves from consumption by mammals, including us humans.
Meanwhile, the birds needed to distribute the pepper seeds lack the oral receptors to feel the burning of the fruit. So you don't feel the same fiery reaction.
A 2017 study of more than 16,000 Americans conducted for nearly two decades found that those who ate lots of chili were 13 percent less likely to die prematurely.
Last year, a study of 22,000 Italians found that those who ate chili peppers every other day were 23 percent less likely to die young. In particular, the risk of being killed by a stroke or heart attack decreased by 61 percent and 40 percent, respectively.
The "fairly remarkable" results came after the team analyzed health and nutritional data on more than 570,000 people around the world. However, the researchers noted that more studies will be needed to determine which varieties of chilli offer protection
According to Cancer Research UK, adopting a healthier diet could help prevent around one in twenty types of cancer.
The organization has recommended a diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fresh chicken, fish, and legumes, and low in processed and red meat, fatty and sugary foods, carbonated beverages, and alcohol.
The British Heart Foundation also recommends eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fish to keep your weight down and keep cholesterol and blood pressure healthy.
Chili peppers are a staple of cuisines around the world – including Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, and Italian – and are eaten by a quarter of the world's population every day.
The researchers presented their preliminary results to a virtual meeting of the American Heart Association.
CAPSAICIN: THE COMPOUND THAT MAKES CHILLIS SPICY
A substance called capsaicin gives chili peppers their distinctive hot, peppery taste.
There are 23 known types of capsaicinoids, all of which are believed to be derived from the pulp of the chili pepper.
It is actually not a taste that creates the warm feeling on the tongue and in the mouth, but a reaction to pain.
The spiciness of a pepper is determined by the genes that regulate capsaicinoid production, and less spicy peppers have mutations that weaken this process.
The molecules have known nutritional and antibiotic properties and are used in pain relievers and pepper sprays.
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