Food for High Blood Pressure?

Well, if not food for high blood pressure, at least its food for thought. This news is not entirely 'hot off the press' as it was published in August 2010, in the journal Cell Metabolism. Researchers studying the effects of capsaicin (contained in chilli peppers) on the blood vessels of rats and mice found that a chilli-laden diet made blood vessels relax, and consequently lowered blood pressure.

The study has established a link between the ingestion of capsaicin over a period of time and a subsequent lowering of blood pressure in animals genetically predisposed to having hypertension; blood pressure started to fall after four months of the capsaicin diet and at seven months it had significantly improved their vascular function and reduced blood pressure.

This study suggests that activating TRPV1 channels through capsaicin is a potential strategy for treating high blood pressure. Previous studies have not produced definitive results but this may be because they were carried out over relatively short time periods.

Chilli pepper is not yet proven conclusively as one of the effective therapeutic foods for high blood pressure and it is not yet clear just how many capsaicin-containing chilli peppers  every individual would need to eat daily to maintain a lowered blood pressure.

Nevertheless for those of us with high blood pressure who love chilli, it is good to know - having thrown away the salt cellar - that we can keep the pepper pot on the table.


(Source: Yang, D. et al. Activation of TRPV1 by dietary capsaicin improves endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation and prevents hypertension. Cell Metabolism 12, 130–141. 2010).

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