We all know the foods and drinks that are supposed to be good for heart health.
They include olive oil, red wine, leafy green vegetables, fatty fish, dark chocolate, garlic, and nuts.
A recent study adds another one that might surprise you: chili peppers.
Researchers from Italy’s Mediterranean Neurological Institute tracked the health and eating habits of 22,811 people for eight years.
Scientists discovered that eating chili peppers four or more times a week was linked to a:
- Forty percent lower risk of death from a heart attack.
- Fifty percent lower risk of death from a stroke.
- Twenty-three percent lower risk of death from all causes.
The study found that hot peppers improved heart health even when subjects ate an otherwise unhealthy diet.
Dr. Marialaura Bonaccio was the study’s first author. She said someone could follow the healthy Mediterranean diet and another person could eat junk food, but for all of them “chili pepper has a protective effect.”
Scientists aren’t sure why chili peppers are so beneficial. They suspect it has something to do with capsaicin, the component that gives peppers their spicy flavor.
If you’re worried about your heart, eating more hot peppers may be one of the best things you can do for your health. Here’s a delicious and easy-to-prepare recipe with plenty of heart-healthy peppers.
Recipe for Three-Pepper Guacamole
4 tablespoons finely chopped onion, divided
3 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeno pepper
3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, divided
1 tablespoon minced seeded serrano pepper
2 to 3 teaspoons chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 medium ripe avocados, peeled and cubed
1/3 cup finely chopped tomatoes
In a large bowl, combine 3 tablespoons cilantro, 2 tablespoons onion, peppers, garlic and salt. Mash them together with a fork. Stir in avocados. Fold in tomatoes and remaining cilantro and onion.
What if you don’t have a taste for hot peppers?
Try cayenne pepper supplements. You can buy them in health food stores and online. They give you heart-healthy capsaicin without the mouth-burning heat.
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