Spices may increase your longevity but it might be a cause of trouble too. A recent study published in American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension shows that those who ate more spicy food, ate lesser salt leading to lower blood pressure. According to Science Daily, to conduct this study analysed 606 Chinese adults to get to these results.
The Relation Of Spice And Salt
“Previously, a pilot study found that trace amounts of capsaicin, the chemical that gives chili peppers their pungent smell, enhanced the perception of food being salty,” said senior study author Zhiming Zhu, M.D., professor and director of the Department of Hypertension and Endocrinology at the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China to the publication. “We wanted to test whether this effect would also reduce salt consumption.”
The researchers further tried to find links between spicy food and blood pressure and compared people who ate less spicy food to those who ate food high in spices. The spice lovers were shown to consume lesser salt and an 8 mm Hg lower systolic (upper) and 5 mm Hg lower diastolic (bottom) blood pressure numbers.
The Brain Being Tricked By Spices
The team took to studying two regions of the brains of the participants: the insula and orbitofrontal cortex. The latter is known to give signals of a salty taste. It was found through imaging techniques that the areas that were stimulated by salt and spice overlapped and also that spice increased the brain activity in the areas which are otherwise activated by salt. The authors also told the publication that due to this increased activity, the people become sensitive to salt and relish food even when there is less of it.
“If you add some spices to your cooking, you can cook food that tastes good without using as much salt,” Zhu told the publication. “Yes, habit and preference matter when it comes to spicy food, but even a small, gradual increase in spices in your food may have a health benefit.”