Spicy foods, such as meals infused with curry made from fresh herbs like cayenne pepper, have been found to prevent heart disease — the number one cause of death in the developed world. The very compounds that are responsible for the hot nature of spicy foods have been determined to be key in bolstering the protective qualities of the heart. Perhaps most notable is the manner in which these compounds affect both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol as well as the health of blood vessels.
The study comes from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, which examined the substances known as ’capsaicinoids’. What the scientists found is that the spicy compounds reduced levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol through a process of increasing the breakdown and excretion of cholesterol. Also, the compounds were able to block the action of a gene that is responsible for causing the arteries to contract — an activity that restricts blood flow to not only the heart but other organs as well. After consuming the compounds, the muscles were more relaxed and increased blood flow was observed.
In order to reach this conclusion, researchers used two groups of hamsters. Both fed high-cholesterol diets, only one group was given varying amounts of capsaicinoids — the heart healthy spice compounds. Afterwards, the results were analyzed and the scientists revealed the beneficial nature of the little-known capsaicinoids.
“Our research has reinforced and expanded knowledge about how these substances in chilies work in improving heart health. 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,” said study author Dr. Zhen-Yu Chen.
Capsaicinoids may be an excellent way to help protect the heart naturally, but be advised to include spicy foods in moderation within a nutrient-dense, organic nutritional regimen. Many spices that do not exhibit a ‘hot’ nature, however, can be added to the diet much more routinely. Turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon are all very beneficial spices that you should be including in your daily meals. Eliminating harmful additives, hazardous chemicals, and including other key heart-protective substances is essential to maintaining a healthy heart and overall balanced health.
30 March 2012