Chili Peppers Could Lower Your Blood Pressure

Posted on Aug 26, 2010 in Health Optimization

by Dave Thier

Chomping down on a habanero may have more subtle benefits than bragging rights. According to a new study, capsaicin, the compound that makes hot peppers spicy, may also lower your blood pressure.

The study, published in this month’s Cell Metabolism journal, found that long-term consumption of capsaicin relaxed blood vessels in genetically hypertensive rats. Researcher Zhiming Zhu of the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China, noticed that population studies with humans suggest a similar phenomenon: Hypertension rates are only 10 to 14 percent in his native southwestern China, where people regularly eat spicy foods, as opposed to 20 percent in the comparatively bland north. 

Capsaicin has previously been touted as a miracle food in myriad ways, from relieving gastric pain to weight loss and pain relief. That burned-out feeling you get in your nose isn’t just short term, either — capsaicin has also been suggested as a way to fight chronic sinus infection.

And those who can’t stand the heat don’t necessarily need to get out of the kitchen. Apparently the non-spicy capsaicin relative capsinoid could provide many of the same health benefits.

Despite this encouraging news, it’s important to remember that hot peppers should still be consumed in moderation. The memorable scene from 1994’s “Dumb and Dumber” serves as a powerful cautionary tale.