A spicy study out of Italy may soon have you dousing all your meals with hot sauce.
Researchers say the study, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), showed a link between people who consumed chili peppers more than four times a week and a 23% reduced mortality rate as compared to their peers who didn't eat them, or rarely did so. The findings, which focused on an Italian population already eating a healthy diet, confirmed previous studies about the health benefits of chili peppers.
"An interesting fact is that protection from mortality risk was independent of the type of diet people followed," said study lead author Marialaura Bonaccio, an epidemiologist at the Mediterranean Neurological Institute (Neuromed). "In other words, someone can follow the healthy Mediterranean diet, someone else can eat less healthily, but for all of them chili pepper has a protective effect."
The lower risk of total and cardiovascular death, supports previous evidence that "minor dietary changes, such as adding chilies to a usual diet, could be valuable measure for improving health, especially cardiovascular health, independent of overall diet quality."
The prosepective Moli-sani Study was based on more than 22,811 men and women who were randomly recruited from Molise, Italy. Participants were asked about their weekly chili consumption, with regular consumption of chilies defined as four times a week or more.
A previous study in China, also found that eating spicy food was associated with a 14% reduction in total mortality and a 22% reduction from ischemic heart disease.
"Health benefits of chili peppers have been ascribed to capsaicin, its major pungent compound, which has been observed to favorably improve cardiovascular function and metabolic regulation in experimental and population studies. In addition to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and atheroprotective effects, capsaicin reportedly induces apoptosis of the tumor cells," the study's authors wrote.
However, researchers were unable to link any biological mechanisms to the health benefits associated with chilies.
“And now, as already observed in China and in the United States, we know that the various plants of the capsicum species, although consumed in different ways throughout the world, can exert a protective action towards our health,” said Licia Iacoviello, director of the department of epidemiology and prevention at Neuromed and a professor at the University of Insubria in Varese.
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