Prevent fatal heart attacks and strokes – eat chili peppers!

You may not be a lover of spicy, chili flavored foods, but research suggests that you may want to develop a liking for them.

According to scientists in Italy, chili peppers drastically cut the mortality rate from heart attacks and cerebrovascular disease, more commonly known as strokes and aneurysms, which restrict blood flow to the brain.

The Italian researchers published the study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Participants included 22,811 Italian men and women over a period of 8 years who reported their chili pepper intake. The study revealed that people who ate hot peppers at least four times a week reduced the likely hood of their dying from a heart attack by 44% and from either a stroke or aneurysm by 61%.

It should be noted that eating chili peppers won’t prevent a heart attack or a stroke but it may prevent the risk of dying from one, according to Marialaura Bonaccio, PhD, who is with the IRCCS Neuromed Mediterranean Neurological Institute in Pozzilli, Italy.

As one of the study authors, Bonaccio, also reported that the study results are independent of the participants diet quality which means that if a person does not adhere regularly to a Mediterranean diet, you can still reap benefits from eating chili peppers.

One of the benefits comes from a compound found in chili peppers called capsaicin which has shown to reduce cholesterol and block the formation of a gene that makes blood vessels tighten in animal test studies done by Chinese researchers. Capsaicin is the element that makes chili peppers hot. Also, studies with animals have show that the compound seems to reduce body fat when it is consumed with ginger and has the possibility to lower the risk of cancer.

However, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) cautions capsaicin’s connection to cancer and says that it can be a carcinogen as well as a cancer preventative. AACR further says that the compound has a complicated history of whether eating  a lot of it or using it as a topical remedy is really safe.

But, an interventional cardiologist and endovascular specialist and founder of Apex Heart and Vascular Care, Anuj Shah MD, states that the new study helps scientists and healthcare professionals to better understand the beneficial power of chili peppers. He notes that generally fresh foods are consumed by people who eat chili peppers, and therefore beneficial results can come from this trend to include chili peppers in one’s diet.Shah also says it should be kept in mind that the study was done in Italy where people are known for healthy eating and whose diets include healthy oils like olive oil, nuts and fatty fish which provides a better baseline for the study