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Home Industry News Eating more spicy food ‘could help to reduce cravings for salt’

Eating more spicy food ‘could help to reduce cravings for salt’

1st November 2017

Eating more spicy foods could be a healthier alternative to adding salt for flavouring, according to a new study.

The research from China's Third Military Medical University in Chongqing aimed to build on previous findings showing that capsaicin – the chemical that gives chilli peppers their strong smell – can enhance the perception of food being salty.

For this study, 606 Chinese adults were asked to determine their preferences for salty and spicy flavours, before linking these tastes to blood pressure. Those with a high spicy preference were shown to have lower blood pressure numbers and consumed less salt than those with a low spicy preference.

Scans also confirmed that the areas of the brain stimulated by salt and spice overlapped, with spice increasing brain activity in areas activated by salt. This allows those with salt cravings to enjoy food that contains less of it, potentially reducing their risk of heart attack and stroke.

Dr Zhiming Zhu, professor and director of the department of hypertension and endocrinology at Third Military Medical University, said: "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."

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