Many populations around the world add spicy peppers to their local dishes to enhance the taste and make their food more delicious. Indian foods are known for their spices worldwide. “Chili is one of the most commonly used spices in the world and particularly popular in Asia compared to European countries,” says Dr. Li.
“In certain regions of China, such as Sichuan and Hunan, almost one in three adults consume spicy food every day.” But no one knows if spicy foods are healthy or not? The most seasoned pepper in the world, such as the Carolina Reaper, could cause severe and immediate damage.
In 2018, a man from the United States who ate a Carolina Reaper as part of a dare in a hot pepper eating contest ended up in the emergency room with a severe headache.
“Chili consumption was found to be beneficial for body weight and blood pressure in our previous studies. However, in this study, we found adverse effects on cognition among older adults,” said Dr. Zumin Shi, a researcher from Qatar University. UniSA epidemiologist Dr. Ming Li, one of five researchers involved in the study, says chili intake included both fresh and dried chili peppers but not sweet capsicum or black pepper.
Capsaicin, an active component found in chilis, is the source of the potential effect on human health. It speeds up the process of metabolism and inhibits any disorder related to vascular damage to a limited extent. Those who reported eating a lot of spicy food were mostly slim and physically active than non-chili eaters, scientists said. But the memory decline was sharp in chili eaters than non-eaters. It was the first time to investigate the association between chili intake and cognitive function.
Researchers found out that people who ate an excess of 50 grams of chili daily had almost double the risk of memory decline and reduced ability to comprehend things.
The long-term study published by the collaboration of South Australia and Qatar University looked at the diets of 4,852 people in China for 15 years. Researchers found out that people aged 55 and older had a faster cognitive decline when they consistently consumed chili pepper every day.
According to an estimation, dementia affects about 50 million people globally. In 2017, approximately 9.5 million Chinese adults aged 60 years and above had dementia.
Moreover, those who ate a lot of chili food had a lower income and Body Mass Index (BMI) and were more physically active as compared to non-consumers. Researchers say people of average body weight may be more sensitive to chili intake than overweight people, hence the impact on memory and weight. Thus, memory decline was more significant in those with a lower BMI. Education levels may also play a role in cognitive decline, but the research is not complete yet.
So, think twice before adding an extra shot of chili sauce or chopped jalapeno to your meal. Spicy food lovers may be at higher risk of dementia than those who prefer average spice level in their daily consumption. Also, who eat a lot of junk food automatically consume a lot of spice and jalapenos. Especially if you are with your elders, avoid spicy food to the best possible extent as it will harm them the most.
Mild levels of spice could be healthy, but eating a lot of spice daily can do you more harm than good. Try to cut off the level of spice slow so it won’t be much tricky on you.
Until Next Time,
Team Doctor ASKY!