Eating Chilies Lowers Risk Of Death By Heart Attack And Stroke Study Claims

It's good news for spicy food lovers, as a new study suggests that eating chilies could be massively improving your health.

Chilies have long been considered an incredibly healthy food.

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However, the new extensive study has narrowed down the potential health benefits of eating chilies.

Apparently, the specific health benefits of eating chilies include a lower risk of suffering both heart attacks and strokes.

The study was carried out in Italy.

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Chilies are a common food ingredient in Italy, and it was there that the study comparing the health benefits of those eating chilies and those not was carried out.

The study included a sample of 22,811 citizens of Molise region, in Italy, who were tracked for over 8 years! The volunteers were frequently questioned about their diet, which was cross-referenced with their health.

Results showed that eating chilies 4 times a week was the magic number.

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The study found that those who ate chilies four times a week were 40% less likely to die from a heart attack. Risk of death from stroke was more than halved in these people as well.

It was suggested that the benefits of eating chilies even protected those who otherwise had much worse diets, explained epidemiologist Marialaura Bonaccio:

"Someone can follow the healthy Mediterranean diet, someone else can eat less healthily, but for all of the chili pepper has a protective effect."

There will apparently be more research into the effects that chilies have on the human heart.

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Director of the department of epidemiology and prevention at the IRCCS Neuromed, Licia Iacoviello, explained that more research needs to be done to prove a causal link between chili intake and healthier hearts:

"Chilli pepper is a fundamental component of our food culture. We see it hanging on Italian balconies, and even depicted in jewels. Over the centuries, beneficial properties of all kinds have been associated with its consumption, mostly on the basis of anecdotes or traditions, if not magic.

"It is important now that research deals with it in a serious way, providing rigor and scientific evidence."

Experts suggested that it could be how the chilies are consumed that impacts the potential benefits.

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A previous study published in the British Medical Journal also suggested that eating spicy food, finding that "those who consumed spicy foods 6 or 7 days a week showed a 14% relative risk reduction in total mortality" compared to those who did not. However, the study expressed that more in-depth research should be done into the area. Licia Iacoviello also referenced this previous study, pointing to one particular plant species:

"As already observed in China and in the United States, we know that the various plants of the capsicum species, although consumed in different ways throughout the world, can exert a protective action towards our health."

Some experts have suggested it may have been other dietary elements that caused the benefits.

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Due to the fact that the experiment's volunteers lived in Molise, Italy, home of the Mediterranean diet, some people exclaimed that it was the generally healthier Mediterranean diet which lead to the health benefits. Registered dietitian and senior teaching fellow at Aston Medical School, Duance Mellor, explained what he thought to be the limitations of the study:

"It is plausible people who use chillies, as the data suggests also used more herbs and spices, and as such likely to be eating more fresh foods including vegetables. So, although chillies can be a tasty addition to our recipes and meals, any direct effect is likely to be small and it is more likely that it makes eating other healthy foods more pleasurable."

The public largely took the study's findings as good news!

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Some of the public's responses included the likes of:

"That's good news, Considering I eat Jalapeños twice a day"

"Finally vindication of my lifestyle"

"Eating chilis 4x per week- now good for you. Eating AT Chili's 4x per week- still bad."

Some people joked, "Sprinting to the refrigerator for milk is good exercise."

So, will this study have you braving the spicy option?

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Sadly, I cannot eat even the most mild food without breaking into a sweat — I can barely handle a Korma. But, I might have to push myself to try and get those health benefits!

Hopefully, more research will be done into this area, and we can find out exactly why it is that chilies have this apparent curative power!

h/t: CNN