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But did you know that adding a bit of chilli to our meals can do more for us than excite our tastebuds? According to a new study, chilli eaters are more likely to have healthier hearts.
A study of nearly 23,000 people found that those who consume chilli more than four times per week were far less likely to die of the coronary illnesses.
Eaters of the spicy ingredient had a 44 per cent less chance of dying from heart disease, a 61 per cent less chance of dying from stroke and were 40 per cent less likely to have a fatal heart attack than those who ate no chilli.
The research - carried out by the Mediterranean Neurological Institute in Italy - found that chilli was beneficial no matter which diet people were following.
"An interesting fact is protection from mortality risk was independent of the type of diet people followed," commented first author Dr Marialaura Bonaccio.
"In other words, someone can follow the healthy Mediterranean diet, someone else can eat less healthily, but for all of them chilli pepper has a protective effect."
The results were scoured from volunteers taking part in the Moli-sani study, an large Italian health study.
It also found that people who consumed more chilli also intook more antioxidants, but pointed out that people who prefer spicier foods could be eating more vegetable-heavy diets in the first place.
While the research is good news for spice-lovers, scientists point out it's just observational so could not prove chillis cause improvements to health.
While there was evidence chilli lovers had less chance of dying from heart-related illnesses, there were signs that chilli lovers were less likely to be healthy overall- including being more likely to be overweight and with higher blood pressure.
Duane Mellor, a dietitian and senior teacher Aston Medical School in Birmingham who was not part of the study, said: "It is plausible people who use chillies, as the data suggests also used more herbs and spices, and as such likely to be eating more fresh foods including vegetables.
"So, although chillies can be a tasty addition to our recipes and meals, any direct effect is likely to be small and it is more likely that it makes eating other healthy foods more pleasurable."
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