If you’re worried about heart health, you’re not alone.
According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. While getting regular exercise and keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level can help prevent heart disease, scientists are studying how spice impacts the heart.
The spice of chili peppers, to be exact.
A recent review of health studies found that people who ate chili peppers regularly were 26% less likely to suffer heart-related deaths than those who rarely ate the spicy peppers. Pepper eaters were also 25% less likely to die in general. This was true no matter if people lived in the US, Italy, Iran, or China. While it’s too early to say that eating more chili peppers leads to a healthier heart, scientists continue to further explore the correlation between chili pepper consumption and a lack of heart problems.
One idea that researchers might future explore is that capsaicin, the compound responsible for the spice in chili peppers, can act as an anti-inflammatory. Inflammation in the arteries can cause plaque buildup that may lead to serious issues including heart attack and stroke. By reducing artery inflammation, you can reduce the risk of heart issues. And that’s where chili peppers may help.
Another possible reason why chili peppers might help with heart health relates to blood pressure. Capsaicin can relax blood vessels, which leads to lower blood pressure. In turn, this decreased blood pressure leads to a lower risk of heart problems.