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People who eat chili peppers on a regular basis appear to lower their risk of dying from heart disease, a new study finds.
Researchers analyzed the diets and health records of more than 22,000 people living in southern Italy and followed them for a median of just over eight years. People who ate chili peppers more than four times a week were about one-third less likely to die of heart disease than those who rarely or never ate the spicy-hot peppers. This protective benefit was evident regardless of whether people followed a Mediterranean-style diet (which is often recommended for heart health) or a less healthful diet.
Chili peppers get their heat from a compound called capsaicin, which may help dampen inflammation and other harmful processes involved in the buildup of fatty plaque in arteries, according to the authors. Their study appeared Dec. 24, 2019, in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
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