Adding something with a little extra spice to your meal could be detrimental to your health.
Next time you think about slapping some extra chili sauce or jalapeños to your dinner, think again — as scientists warn that a spicy diet could be linked to dementia.
The research, published in the journal Nutrients, found that people who consumed more than 50 grams of chili a day nearly doubled the risk of memory decline while having poor cognition.
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“Chili consumption was found to be beneficial for body weight and blood pressure in our previous studies. However, in this study, we found adverse effects on cognition among older adults,” said Dr. Zumin Shi, who led the study.
The 15-year study looked at more than 4,500 Chinese adults aged 55 and older where researchers collected data from nine different periods. Participants were administered cognitive tests that determined their memory recognition. They were also asked to complete dietary surveys which collected information from a three-day survey period.
The study said that chili intake was determined as both fresh and dried chili peppers, but omitted capsicum or black pepper.
Participants who consumed more chili had a lower income and body mass index, according to the study. They were also more physically active compared to non-consumers.
Eating spicier foods has previously been linked to living a longer life. A study by researchers at the University of Vermont in 2017 found that consuming hot red chili peppers was associated with a 13% reduction in death.
“Chili is one of the most commonly used spices in the world and particularly popular in Asia compared to European countries,” Dr. Li said. “In certain regions of China, such as Sichuan and Hunan, almost one in three adults consume spicy food every day.”