Hot peppers boost heart health
Hot peppers boost more than your temperature — they actually boost your heart health. That’s according to materials obtained from the 243rd National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society.
Cayenne pepper is an important culinary spice used by many cultures around the world, but it has also been used as a traditional medicine for thousands of years.
Today, cayenne, or its primary compound capsaicin, is used in holistic medicine for digestive disorders, weight loss, psoriasis, shingles and pain relief.
One of the primary uses of capsaicin is as a topical pain reliever. It is widely used in over-the-counter creams and analgesics throughout Europe and the United States. Capsaicin depletes a neurotransmitter involved in the sensation of pain, called substance P. Once depleted, pain signals don’t reach the brain and you feel pain relief. The recent report released by the American Chemical Society March 27, 2012 suggests that hot peppers may guard against the number one cause of death in the United States – heart disease.
Researchers concentrated on a family of substances known as capsaicinoids, which are compounds that give hot peppers their heat. Capsaicin belongs to this family of spicy compounds and was the primary focus of the study. Over the course of the study hamsters were fed a high-cholesterol diet and then divided into two groups. One group received capsaicinoids with their food, while a control group did not.
The study authors found that capsaicinoids benefit the heart in two important ways. First, they reduce total levels of cholesterol, specifically LDL cholesterol, whereas HDL cholesterol levels were not affected. Surprisingly, the scientists found that capsaicinoids may reduce the amount of existing cholesterol deposits already clogging arteries. These findings are exciting considering the fact that narrowing of the arteries as a result of cholesterol build-up is a well-known precursor to heart attack and strokes. Secondly, capsaicinoids improve blood flow by blocking the action of cyclooxygenase-2 – an enzyme that makes the muscles of blood vessels contract. This confirms the findings of previous research, which established that administration of capsaicin exerted a blood pressure lowering effect. Capsaicinoids can be found in other hot peppers, such as habeneros and jalapenos. (Examiner.com)