Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hot Pepper and Your Heart

Hot Pepper Compound Capsaicin Helps Maintain Healthy Hearts
Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Capsaicin, The Compound Naturally
Present In Hot Peppers Such As
Cayenne, Helps Maintain Healthy Hearts
Scientists have reported the latest evidence that
chili peppers are a heart-healthy food with potential
to protect against the No. 1 cause of death in the world. The report was presented at the National Meeting and Exposition of the American
Chemical Society (ACS) held in San Diego.

The study focused on capsaicin and its fiery-hot constituents, substances called "capsaicinoids." These are the natural substances that give
cayennes, jalapenos, habaneros and other chili peppers their intemse heat. Capsaicin already has an established role in medicine in topical ointments, rub-on-the-skin creams to treat arthritis and pain.

Previous research suggested that spicing food
with chilies can lower blood pressure in people, reduce blood cholesterol and ease the tendency
for dangerous blood clots to form.

"Our research has reinforced and expanded knowledge about how these substances in chilies work in improving heart health," said researchers "We now have a clearer and more detailed portrait
of their innermost effects on genes and other mechanisms that influence cholesterol and the
health of blood vessels. It is among the first
research to provide that information."

The team of scientists found that capsaicin substances boosts heart health in two ways. They lower cholesterol levels by reducing accumulation
of cholesterol in the body and increasing its breakdown and excretion in the feces. They also block action of the gene that makes arteries
contract, restricting the flow of blood to the heart
and other organs. The blocking action allows
more blood to flow through blood vessels.

"We concluded that capsaicinoids were beneficial
in improving a range of factors related to heart
and blood vessel health," said the food and
nutritional scientists at the Chinese University
of Hong Kong and emphasized "But we certainly
do not recommend that people start consuming chilies to an excess. A good diet is a matter of balance. And remember, chilies are no
substitute for the prescription medications
proven to be beneficial."

The researchers fed laboratory subjects high-cholesterol diets, divided them into groups,
and supplemented each group's food with either
no capsaicinoids (the control group) or various amounts of capsaicinoids. The scientists then analyzed the effects.

In addition to reducing total cholesterol levels
in the blood, capsaicinoids reduced levels of the so-called "bad" cholesterol (which deposits into blood vessels), but did not affect levels of the
so-called "good" cholesterol. The team found indications that capsaicinoids may reduce the
size of deposits that already have formed in
blood vessels, narrowing arteries in ways
that can lead to heart attacks or strokes.

Capsaicinoids also blocked the activity of a
gene that produces cyclooxygenase-2,
a substance that makes the muscles around
blood vessels constrict. By effectively blocking
the gene, muscles can relax and widen,
allowing more blood to flow.

Story Source:
Chinese University of Hong Kong

Journal Reference:
American Chemical Society (ACS) (2012)
Hot pepper compound could help hearts.

This article is for informational and educational
purposes only; It is not intended to provide
medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Consult your doctor or healthcare professional.

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