Chili Peppers May Extend Your Life

Kris-Etherton noted that previous studies have shown that capsaicin helps curb the growth of cancer cells, which may play a role in reducing cancer and all-cause mortality.

Hot peppers contain potassium, fiber and vitamins A, B6 and E, she said, noting that these can improve blood pressure. And adding chili could replace some of the salt that a person might otherwise add to the food. Many people – including Americans and people of Asian cultures – eat very high salt diets, Kris-Etherton added.

“Rather than just cutting out the salt, people are looking for seasonings and flavors, and this can be one that has a double benefit, by reducing sodium and adding antioxidants and maybe bioactive components like capsaicin,” she declared.

But too many good things can also cause problems. The chili can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and a burning sensation in the gastrointestinal tract, she explained.

If you want to add spice to your diet, Kris-Etherton suggests using it as a flavoring.

“People could use them with certain foods. So let’s just say they want to make something like guacamole, which is good, but then pair it with healthy foods,” Kris-Etherton said. “Don’t get your chillies by eating a lot of avocado with a ton of crisps.”

The study did not break down the amount and type of chili that might be needed for health benefits. Xu also said it was too early in research to give dietary guidelines for eating chili peppers to improve health outcomes.

Researchers continue to analyze the data and hope to publish the full article soon. Preliminary results are expected to be presented at a virtual meeting of the American Heart Association November 13-17.

More information

To learn more about chili peppers and health, check out the United States National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Bo Xu, MD, cardiologist, Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Ohio; Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, professor, nutritional sciences, College of Health and Human Development, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania; American Heart Association, Scientific Sessions Press Release, November 9, 2020

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