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Consuming Chiles Reduces Death From Heart Attack, Stroke and All Causes, Study Shows

Posted by on December 20, 2019 in Food, Drink & Nutrition, Health with 0 Comments

By | EcoWatch

Could chili peppers have life-saving properties? A recent study suggests they might.

Researchers looked at the diets of nearly 23,000 adults living in the Molise region of Southern Italy over an eight-year period. They found that those who ate chili peppers regularly, defined as four or more times a week, were 40 percent less likely to die from a heart attack and more than 50 percent less likely to die from a stroke, CNN reported.

The protective effect of the chili peppers extended beyond cardiovascular disease. The study found that the regular chili eaters were 23 percent less likely to die for any reason, Newsweek reported.

“The strength of the association between chili pepper and cardiovascular mortality risk is quite strong, but also the risk reduction toward total death risk is actually surprising,” study authors Marialaura Bonaccio of Maastricht University in the Netherlands, Dr. Giovanni de Gaetano of Italy's I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed and Dr. Licia Iacoviello of the University of Insubria, Italy, told Newsweek in a statement.

The research, published this month in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, focused on Italy because chili peppers are a common part of the traditional Mediterranean diet, a diet dominated by fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds that relies on olive oil as its primary fat source, Newsweek explained.

Observing practitioners of this diet could, therefore, help scientists study the reported link between capsaicin, the ingredient that gives chilies their spice, and good health. It was also a way to verify Italian food traditions that touted the benefits of peppers, Iacoviello told CNN.

“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,” Iacoviello said.

Interestingly, the researchers found that participants who ate chilies were less likely to die even if they did not follow the rest of the Mediterranean diet, which is generally considered healthy.

“[S]omeone can follow the healthy Mediterranean diet, someone else can eat less healthily, but for all of the chili pepper has a protective effect,” Bonaccio told CNN.

That might make you want to go out and buy some chilies, but the study authors cautioned against that line of thinking.

“Diets should not be treated as drugs,” the authors told Newsweek. “We should not talk in terms of amounts per day, as if we were dealing with drugs, rather our effort should be addressed to promote a global healthy lifestyle, starting from the diet.”

They said that those who already eat chili peppers regularly should, of course, continue to do so, but anyone who does not like peppers should simply follow a healthy diet overall.

Because it was an observational study, the research also cannot prove that chilies were, in fact, responsible for the lower mortality risk.

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