March 28, 2012
Capsaicinoids found in cayenne pepper, jalapenos, habaneros and other chili peppers already have an established treatment role in creams to address joint and arthritis pain. They also promote fat burning, increase metabolism and even kill cancer cells. Scientists have now reported the latest evidence that chili peppers are a heart-healthy food with potential to protect against the No. 1 cause of death in the developed world.
The report was part of the 243rd National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), being held in San Diego the week of March 26.
Past research suggested that spicing food with chilies can lower blood pressure in people with that condition, reduce blood cholesterol and ease the tendency for dangerous blood clots to form.
Researchers in Korea recently published evidence that suggests the mechanisms behind why capsaicin may aid weight loss.
Spicing up your daily diet with some red pepper can also curb appetite, especially for those who don't normally eat the popular spice, according to research from Purdue University.
The component that gives jalapeno peppers their heat may also kill prostate cancer cells.
"Our research has reinforced and expanded knowledge about how these substances in chilies work in improving heart health," said Zhen-Yu Chen, Ph.D., who presented the study. "We now have a clearer and more detailed portrait of their innermost effects on genes and other mechanisms that influence cholesterol and the health of blood vessels. It is among the first research to provide that information."
The team found, for instance, that capsaicin and a close chemical relative boost heart health in two ways. They lower cholesterol levels by reducing accumulation of cholesterol in the body and increasing its breakdown and excretion in the feces. They also block action of a gene that makes arteries contract, restricting the flow of blood to the heart and other organs. The blocking action allows more blood to flow through blood vessels.
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