A taste for spicy food could have unexpected benefits, according to research set to be presented this week at the conference of the American Heart Association.
People who regularly eat food containing child peppers have a "significantly reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer," says a paper based on the health and dietary records of more than 570,000 test subjects in the United States, Italy, China and Iran.
Compared to people who rarely or never ate chillies, spicy food fans were found to be 26% less likely to die from cardiovascular problems and 23% less likely to die from cancer.
"We were surprised to find that in these previously published studies, regular consumption of chilli pepper was associated with an overall risk-reduction of all-cause, CVD and cancer mortality, said senior author Bo Xu, MD, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic's Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute in Cleveland, Ohio.
"It highlights that dietary factors may play an important role in overall health."
He stressed, though, that these are only preliminary results, and there’s more research to be done yet – so don’t start munching on the hot peppers just yet.
"The exact reasons and mechanisms that might explain our findings, though, are currently unknown.”
He told Science Daily: "It is impossible to conclusively say that eating more chilli peppers can prolong life and reduce deaths, especially from cardiovascular factors or cancer.
"More research, especially evidence from randomised controlled studies, is needed to confirm these preliminary findings," he added.
He also pointed out that the exact quantity of chilli pepper that each research subject wasn’t the same in every case, making it hard to say exactly how much chilli, and which exact type, might prove to have the best health benefits.
The researchers are continuing to sift through their data and hope to publish the full paper soon.
This research paper will be presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2020. The meeting will be held virtually, between Friday, November 13 and Tuesday, November 17, 2020.
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