Hypertensive individuals who are looking for a natural way to lower their blood pressure may want to consider eating chili peppers on a regular basis—if they can handle the heat.
Using an animal model a group of Chinese researchers found that the long-term consumption of capsaicin—the active ingredient in chili peppers—can help the body naturally produce nitric oxide, a molecule known to help prevent blood vessel inflammation and dysfunction.
Although this study is not the first to investigate the link between capsaicin intake and reduced blood pressure, it is the only one to examine the ingredient’s long-term effects.
Lead investigator Zhiming Zhu and his colleagues from the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China believe that the findings are also supported by local epidemiological evidence.
Referencing other studies, Zhu noted that hypertension rates in Northern China are approximately 20 percent, compared to 10 percent to 14 percent in the southern part of the country.
"People in these regions like to eat hot and spicy foods with a lot of chili peppers," said Zhu.
Previous research has also suggested that chili peppers can help obese individuals naturally speed up their metabolism, allowing them to lose weight faster.