Chili peppers have long been known to have therapeutic properties that help relieve different kinds of pain. Not only they are good at treating common cold and fever but according to a new study in Italy, eating chili peppers regularly can reduce the risk of death from stroke and heart disease.
To know more about the therapeutic properties and health benefits of chili peppers, the researchers compared the risk of death among 23,000 people who ate and didn’t eat chili peppers. The participants are mostly from the Molise region of Southern Italy where chili peppers are part of the people’s diet.
The researchers took into account the participants’ health status and eating habits and monitored them for more than eight years. After a long period of research and observations, they came up with a shocking result: the participants who ate chili peppers at least four times a week had a 40% lower risk of death from stroke and heart attack than those who didn’t indulge in chili.
Also, the study found that those who ate chili peppers regularly have a 23% lower mortality risk from various ailments and illnesses.
The lead author of the study and also an epidemiologist, Marialaura Bonaccio explained that a person’s mortality risk does not depend on the type of diet he or she follows. Whether or not someone eats healthy, chili peppers will have the same protective effect on their body.
Apparently, chilli’s therapeutic properties are credited to capsaicin, an active ingredient responsible for its burning sensation.
Licia Lacoviello, professor at the University of Insubria in Varese explained that the healing benefits of chili are a part of Italian food culture.
She said, “And now, as already observed in China and 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.”
After their breakthrough research about the protective effect of chili peppers on mortality, they are planning to study the biochemical mechanisms that make chilli peppers good for overall health.
While lots of experts praised the study, they are also concerned about its limitations. A registered dietitian in the UK, Duane Mellor, said that the study is “interesting” but it lacks a fundamental link between health benefits and consumption of chili. He said that chilies can be a great addition to meals but their direct health effect is likely to be small.
Ian Johnson, a nutrition researcher in Norwich, England admired the robust methods of the “high-quality observational study” but he also mentioned the lack of a mechanism for chili’s protective effect. Nonetheless, he understands that this type of uncertainty is normal in epidemiological research.
Chilli peppers are long considered as a healthy spice and if you love eating them, you can still maintain your chili diet whether to reap their health benefits or just to satisfy your taste buds. However, always stick to your normal spice level and don’t overindulge as too much consumption of chili peppers may cause stomach discomfort.