This Article is From Aug 31, 2009

Eat chili to prevent diabetes, heart disease

Washington: Want to stave off diabetes and heart disease? Just eat chili pepper daily, for a study has revealed that it not only adds zest to flavourful dishes, but also health to those brave enough to risk its fiery heat.

An international team, led by Indian-origin researcher Dr Kiran Ahuja, has found that chilies have the potential to prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in many countries.

The study has found that two active ingredients of chilies, capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin, have the potential to lower blood glucose and insulin levels, reduce formation of fatty deposits on artery walls and prevent blood clots.

In their study, the researchers have found that eating a meal containing chilies lowered post-meal blood glucose and insulin concentrations. High levels of glucose and insulin are linked to an increased risk for the development of diabetes.

The study revealed chilies help reduce the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol and therefore reduces the chance of plaque formation in the arteries.

Dr Ahuja of Tasmania University and her team are now assessing the comparative effectiveness of chili and aspirin on blood thinning. Hyper-aggregation of blood platelets is associated with thrombosis and cardiovascular disease.

In fact, they are investigating what amount of chili gives the effect similar to that of as a standard dose of aspirin on platelet aggregation and will also be followed up with a dietary intervention study.

"Aspirin is commonly used to inhibit platelet aggregation, however, it has a nasty side effect, which causes stomach bleeding in patients," Dr Ahuja said, adding that it was possible that one day chilies would replace aspirin as a medication for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

This work on blood coagulation follows on from Dr Ahuja's earlier investigations that showed a potential role of chili in prevention of diabetes as well as formation of fatty deposits on artery walls.

The findings are published in the latest edition of the 'American Journal of Clinical Nutrition'.