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Chili Extract May Lower Blood Pressure

Researchers from the Third Military Medical University in China recently found that a chili compound called capsaicin may improve blood vessel function and lower blood pressure. Their findings were published in the July 2010 issue of the journal Cell Metabolism.

Capsaicin is what gives chili peppers their ‘heat’ and it is often used in flavorings for spicy foods like hot salsa and Tabasco sauce. It is found in the white pulp of the peppers and has been linked to a number of potential health benefits.

For this particular study, researchers divided mice into two groups. One group was given a daily dose of capsaicin for 6 months and the other was used as a control group. Over the six month study period, the researchers assessed various cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure and nitric oxide levels.

The researchers found that the mice given the chili extract had lower blood pressure and their arteries were also more relaxed, and therefore, more functional.

The researchers noted that regions in China with a low prevalence of hypertension tend to eat lots of hot and spicy foods with chili pepper, which likely plays a large role in these lower rates.

Before the researchers can make any definitive conclusions, however, they will need to replicate these findings in human studies. In the meantime, it can't hurt to up your intake of chili's, especially in light of recent findings that it could possibly also help you lose weight.

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