A hot question: red pepper in dishes can replace salt

red pepper

When discussing the right, healthy, balanced and meaningful nutrition – especially at the first stages of the transition – we have no idea what we are talking about. In fact, even small steps are important here. Of course, you may be confronted with the opinion that smoked foods and proper nutrition, for example, are incompatible. But any normal nutritionist will say that it is great,

  • if you switch from eating bacon five times a week to just once a week.

Salt still remains one of the main nutrition issues. The problem is that salty food is not only the one that you salted yourself, but also quite unexpected things like seemingly completely non-salty sauces, pastries or dairy products. According to a study held in 2016,

  • about 70% of salt that we consume is already contained in food.

How to reduce its amount in your nutrition? Scientists know the answer – add some heat.

The Daily Mail reports of a new study, which showed that consumption of spicy food effectively reduces blood pressure. This is due to the fact that such food “trick” helps reduce the brain’s craving for salt and, as a result, positively affects the condition of the heart and blood vessels in the long run.

During the experiment, held at the Third Military Medical University in China, it was found out that people, who have a soft spot for Asian cuisine with a predominance of spicy dishes consume less salt altogether.

his, in turn, leads to the fact that they have:

  • low blood pressure,
  • lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Previous studies have shown that a healthy dose of capsaicin – the substance that is responsible for the heat of the red pepper – in the menu improves our perception of any food for both the smell and flavor”, said the lead author Zhiming Zhu. “We wanted to see if the habit of adding heat to the dish would affect the salt intake.”

The study, published in the journal Hypertension, involved 606 adult Chinese, who expressed their preference for salty and spicy foods even before the experimental part. Then, the scientists compared these data to the arterial pressure of volunteers. Thus, it was discovered that the blood pressure levels in those participants, who can not refuse hot and spicy foods, were closer to the normal indicators. In addition, they consume less salt than people, who try to stay away from spicy food.

To clarify the results, the team of scientists used visualization methods to see how the two brain regions of participants, insula and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), react to salty taste during meals. It is interesting that spicy and hot dishes caused even greater activity in these areas, than salty foods were.

The researchers suggest that this increased activity, apparently, makes us more sensitive to salt, helping us consume it in smaller quantities to satiate the same level.

Since all participants to the study were from China, scientists believe that more research is required to determine whether these results are valid for other countries. However, Professor Zhiming Zhu is sure that this advice is worth to take note of:

red pepper

If you add some pepper to a dish that you love very much, you can get food that is still good to taste without using so much salt. Thus, even a small increase in the number of spices in the menu can bring health benefits,” he concludes.