According to a new study published in the Hypertension Journal of the American Heart Association, in China, spicy people eat less salt and have lower blood pressure, potentially reducing their risk of heart disease and sudden death.
“A previous study found that trace amounts of capsaicin (a substance that imparts an pungent odor to peppers) can enhance the perception of food saltiness,” said Professor Zhiming Zhu, a senior author of the study and director of the Department of Hypertension and Endocrinology at the Third Military Medical University. . “We want to test whether this effect can also reduce salt intake.”
The study subjects consisted of 606 Chinese adults. The researchers measured their preference for salty and spicy flavors and then linked those preferences to their blood pressure.
They found that, compared with those who did not like spicy food the most, those who had a high preference for spicy taste showed the following characteristics: systolic blood pressure (high pressure) was 8 mmHg lower and diastolic blood pressure (low pressure) was 5 MmHg; consumes less salt than people who do not eat spicy food.
The researchers also used imaging technology to observe the subject’s two brain regions, the brain island and the orbital prefrontal cortex, which are known to be associated with salty taste perception. They found that areas stimulated by salty and spicy overlap, and spicy significantly enhanced brain activity in salt-activated areas. The authors say that this enhanced activity may make people more sensitive to saltiness, so they can enjoy less salty foods.
All subjects are from China, so more in-depth research is needed to determine whether these findings are also universally applicable to populations in other countries.
“If you add some peppers while cooking, you don’t have to add a lot of salt to make great foods,” Zhu said. “Yes, whether you eat spicy food is about habits and preferences, but even in your food A small amount, and gradually adding some spicy flavors can bring health benefits. ”
Salt and sodium are often interchangeable concepts, but they are not the same. More than 75% of the sodium consumed by Americans comes from processed, prepackaged and restaurant foods, not salt shakers. The American Heart Association recommends that you consume no more than one teaspoon of salt (2300mg of sodium) daily.