I have to admit: it can be hard to take news about the latest healthy eating too seriously. There seems to be an endless list of recommendations for food choices, but little consensus. It suffices to confuse even the most attentive reader of health news.
For a long time, low fat diets reigned supreme. But then came the Paleo Diet, the Keto Diet, the LA Diet, the South Beach Diet, the Mediterranean Diet, and many more – including the diets that entire companies are based around (such as Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and NutriSystem). The eggs were terrible; now they are fine (in moderation, of course). There is cleanses, detoxifies, and foods to fight inflammation.
Yet one of the new entries in the deluge of nutritional news may seem like one of the most unlikely: chili.
Time to spice up your diet?
According to a new report, chili peppers in your diet may reduce your risk of dying from cancer or cardiovascular disease and may also promote longevity.
The analysis included data from more than half a million people in several countries. Compared with people who never or rarely ate chili peppers, those who ate them regularly had lower death rates from cardiovascular disease (by 26%), cancer (by 23%), or any cause (by 25%).
While the findings in this report may seem too good to be true, they are based on the publication of several other studies linking the health benefits of chili pepper consumption. For example, this study found that people who consumed chili at least four times a week for eight years had significantly lower death rates, especially from cardiovascular disease, compared to people who consumed it rarely or never.
It’s unclear why chili could be a health boon. One theory attributes it to capsaicin. It is the ingredient in chilli that gives it its warmth. Capsaicin is a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties.
Before reviewing your shopping list …
These results are intriguing, but not definitive. The report is an analysis of four major observational studies. So while he describes a link between chili pepper consumption and health benefits, he cannot prove that chili pepper consumption is the cause. In fact, chili may not have much to do with the results: maybe people who eat chilli use it to spice up an already healthy diet, and this diet could be responsible for the health benefits. health.
The different studies included in this new report used different types and amounts of chili peppers. And these findings have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal; So far, they have only been presented at the 2020 American Heart Association meeting. This means that the results should be considered preliminary.
Additionally, there might be downsides to eating chili. For one thing, some people don’t like very spicy foods. And some previous studies have linked chili consumption to gallbladder cancer; this result is not definitive either, as it also comes from observational studies.
The bottom line
If you love to spice up your food, this latest report is a reason to continue. But it’s too early to say that everyone should start consuming it regularly to improve their health. More research will be needed to confirm that the overall health impact is positive. And if so, we need to determine the best amount of chili. And does the type of pepper matter? How long does it take to see a benefit?
For people like me who love spicy foods, this chili news is a welcome one. But it’s important to keep these results in perspective: a single spice is unlikely to have a major impact compared to other elements of a healthy lifestyle, including a well-balanced one. heart healthy food, exercise regularly, and avoid excess weight.
So even though chili peppers are proven to be healthy, a single spice can’t do much: Eating fast food pizza several times a week doesn’t become healthy eating just by adding extra chili flakes.
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