According to a latest study, your penchant for the extra spice in your food may help you crave lesser salt- thereby contributing to lower blood pressure and a significantly lesser risk of heart attack and stroke.
"Previously, a pilot study found that trace amounts of capsaicin, the chemical that gives chili peppers their pungent smell, enhanced the perception of food being salty," said senior study author Zhiming Zhu, Professor at the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China.
"We wanted to test whether this effect would also reduce salt consumption," Zhu added. For the study more than 600 Chinese adults determined their preferences for salty and spicy flavours. The team of researchers then linked those preferences to blood pressure.
The study revealed that participants with a high spicy preference had lower blood pressure and consumed less salt than participants who had a low spicy preference. The findings, published in the journal Hypertension, used imaging techniques to look at two regions of the participants' brains -- the insula and orbitofrontal cortex -- known to be involved in salty taste.
According to the study, the areas stimulated by salt and spice overlapped, and that spice further increased brain activity in areas activated by salt. The stimulation in brain caused by this increased activity further makes people more sensitive to salt so that they can enjoy food with less of it, "If you add some spices to your cooking, you can cook food that tastes good without using as much salt," Zhu said.
"Yes, habit and preference matter when it comes to spicy food, but even a small, gradual increase in spices in your food may have a health benefit," Zhu said.
(Inputs from IANS)