Hot Peppers Help the Heart

Turn Up the Heat

February is Heart Health Month, and individuals that like hot peppers have another reason to continue their spicy habit, according to recent research. A study presented at the latest National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society focused on the benefits of capsaicin and its fiery-hot relatives, a piquant family of substances termed capsaicinoids, that give cayenne, jalapeños, habanero and other chili peppers their heat.

The research team discovered that these substances boost heart health in several ways: They block the action of a gene producing a substance that makes arteries contract and restrict the flow of blood to the heart and other organs; lower cholesterol by reducing its accumulation in the body and increasing its breakdown and excretion; decrease the size of cholesterol deposits already formed in blood vessels that narrow arteries and increase the risk of heart attacks or strokes; and reduce overall levels of so-called “bad” cholesterol while not affecting levels of “good” cholesterol.

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