Turning Up the Heat to Lower Blood Pressure
Chili peppers might set your mouth on fire, but the compound that gives the peppers its burn factor, capsaicin, can cause blood vessels to relax, reducing blood pressure.
A recent study on genetically hypertensive rats, published in Cell Metabolism found that the long-term consumption of capsaicin significantly reduced blood pressure. Previous studies linking capsaicin and blood pressure only looked at short-term exposure to this component of chili peppers and found conflicting results.
These recent findings support the anecdotal evidence of the benefits of chili peppers observed when comparing the diets of different regions of China. In Southwestern China, where people traditionally eat a lot of spicy food, the prevalence of hypertension is 10 per cent lower than in Northeastern China where spicy food is not as popular.
Further studies are needed to confirm the benefit in humans and to establish necessary doses.