Spice-lovers, here’s some great news: packing in the chilli peppers could be doing a world of good for your wellbeing.
Eating chillis halves the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, new research suggests.
A study of almost 23,000 people found that those who regularly consumed chilli peppers were 61% less likely to die from a stroke, and 40% less likely to have a deadly heart attack.
Regularly eating chilli peppers was also found to slash deaths from ischaemic heart disease by 44%.
It’s thought the health benefits of chilli peppers are down to capsaicin, the chemical that provides heat and reduces inflammation.
First author Dr Marialaura Bonaccio, of the Institute for Research, Hospitalisation and Health Care (IRCCS) Neuromed in Molise, Italy, said: ‘An interesting fact is protection from mortality risk was independent of the type of diet people followed.
‘In other words, someone can follow the healthy Mediterranean diet, someone else can eat less healthily, but for all of them chilli pepper has a protective effect.’
Her team tracked volunteers taking part in an Italian health project called the Moli-sani study.
Those who ate chilli at least four times a week were much less likely to die over the next eight years compared to peers who rarely touched it.
This isn’t the first bit of research to point to the health benefits of chilli.
Previous studies have shown chilli peppers can protect against cancer and diabetes, act as a painkiller, boost gut bacteria, and combat obesity.
Professor Licia Iacoviello, of the University of Insubria, Varese, said: ‘Chilli pepper is a fundamental component of our food culture. We see it hanging on Italian balconies, and even depicted in jewels.
‘Over the centuries, beneficial properties of all kinds have been associated with its consumption, mostly on the basis of anecdotes or traditions, if not magic.
‘It is important now that research deals with it in a serious way, providing rigour and scientific evidence.
‘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.’
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