Pepperheads may be doing their hearts a favor when they indulge their taste buds. Research from China suggests that those who eat meals with lots of chili peppers often go lighter on the salt (Hypertension, online Oct. 31, 2017). The researchers found that that those who love chili peppers still eat some salt in their food, just not quite as much as those eating blander foods.
Chili Peppers and Blood Pressure:
Blood pressure readings differed between those who often enjoy capsaicin, the hot stuff in chili peppers, and those who avoid it. Pepper lovers had systolic blood pressure that was 8 points lower, on average, along with diastolic blood pressure that was 5 points lower than that in people who don’t like spice. The research did not determine whether the benefit was solely from reduced salt intake, or whether capsaicin might have an independent effect on blood pressure.
Other research suggests that pepper lovers may live longer (PLOS One, Jan. 9, 2017). We don’t know if this is due to the beneficial effects of chili peppers on blood pressure, but it might help.
If you’d like more information on the benefits of capsaicin and ways to incorporate peppers into your diet, you may be interested in our book, Spice Up Your Health: How Everyday Kitchen Herbs & Spices Can Lengthen & Strengthen You Life.