Chili pepper is a common ingredient in Italians kitchens, and over the centuries, it has been praised for its supposed therapeutic virtues. Now, an Italian study shows that people who consume it on a regular basis have an all-cause mortality risk 23 percent lower than those who do not consume it.
The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), was conducted by the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention of I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed in Pozzilli, Italy, in collaboration with the Department of Oncology and Molecular Medicine of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità in Rome, the University of Insubria in Varese and the Mediterranean Cardiocentro in Naples.
The study examined 22,811 citizens of the Molise region in Italy participating in the Moli-sani study. Following their health status for an average period of about eight years and comparing it with their eating habits,
Neuromed researchers observed that in people regularly consuming chili pepper (four times a week or more), the risk of dying of a heart attack was cut by 40 percent. Risk reduction for cerebrovascular mortality was more than halved.
Marialaura Bonaccio, Neuromed epidemiologist and first author of the publication, says, “An interesting fact is that protection from mortality risk was independent of the type of diet people followed.
In other words, someone can follow the healthy Mediterranean diet, someone else can eat less healthily, but for all of them, chili pepper has a protective effect.”
New studies are required to understand the biochemical mechanisms through which the chili pepper and its capsaicin-containing relatives act. But for the time being, spicy food lovers surely have one more reason to maintain their habit.
More information: Marialaura Bonaccio et al, Chili Pepper Consumption and Mortality in Italian Adults, Journal of the American College of Cardiology (2019). DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2019.09.068
Provided by Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed