Chili pepper for a long life, it really needs to be said! In fact, as emerges from a research published recently in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, by an Italian team of the Mediterranean Neurological Institute of Pozzilli Neuromed, regularly consuming dishes containing chili pepper helps protect the heart and brain and make us live longer and healthier (Bonaccio et al, JACC, 2019).
The properties of chilli
Chilli is a key spice of the Mediterranean diet. Thanks to its active ingredient, capsaicin, chilli is anti-inflammatory, analgesic, counteracts overweight and obesity, cellular degeneration and arteriosclerosis. However, until now, there have been few and not very in-depth studies on the benefits of regular consumption of chili peppers. Precisely to fill this gap, the Italian scientists of Neuromed have developed the research we are talking about.
Chilli protects the heart, brain and blood vessels, the study
The researchers recruited 24,325 adults over the age of 35 and randomly selected from the population of Molise, a region in Italy. The study began in 2005 and continued until 2010. During these five years, the volunteers were subjected to questionnaires to assess their habitual consumption of chilli. Specifically, study participants were asked to indicate how many times a week they ate dishes containing chili pepper. In addition, the researchers followed the volunteers to assess their health status. What emerged was that consuming chilli at least four times a week led to a 20% reduction in mortality from cardiovascular disease and heart attack. Not only that, the regular consumption, at least 4 times a week, of chili peppers has also been shown to protect the brain, reducing the risk of mortality from cerebrovascular diseases, such as, for example, strokes or aneurysms by 40%. Noteworthy is the fact that the action of chilli was stronger in people not suffering from hypertension. Hypertension is therefore a condition that could hinder the beneficial action of this spice. So we certainly have one more reason to keep the blood pressure under control with diet and lifestyle.
Health is determined by genetics, on which we cannot act, but also by lifestyle and diet, factors over which we have full control. So let's start now to improve our quality of life and our health, choosing an active lifestyle but also a healthy and varied diet that may include chilli pepper, among other foods and spices. In fact, if consumed at least 4 times a week, chilli pepper helps protect blood vessels, heart and brain.