YOU may want to think twice before adding that extra kick of chilli sauce or chopped jalapeno to your meal.
New research from South Australia has found a spicy diet could be linked to dementia.
Although chilli is thought to be effective in battling obesity and hypertension, a new study involving University of South Australia (UniSA) shows a spicy diet rich in chillies could be linked to memory decline.
The study, involving the University of South Australia and Qatar University, showed that those who ate more than 50 grams of chilli a day (around three and a half tablespoons) had almost double the risk of memory decline and poor cognition.
The 15-year study of almost 5000 Chinese people aged over 55 also found memory decline was even more significant if the chilli lovers were slim.
"Chilli 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 lead researcher Dr Zumin Shi from Qatar University.
Capsaicin is the active component in chilli which reportedly speeds up metabolism, fat loss and inhibits vascular disorders but this is the first longitudinal study to investigate the association between chilli intake and cognitive function.
UniSA epidemiologist Dr Ming Li, one of five researchers involved in the study, said chilli intake included both fresh and dried chilli peppers but not sweet capsicum or black pepper.
"Chilli 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."
Those who ate a lot of chilli had a lower income and body mass index (BMI) and were more physically active compared to non-consumers.
Researchers said people of normal body weight may be more sensitive to chilli intake than overweight people, hence the impact on memory and weight. Education levels may also play a role in cognitive decline and this link requires further research..
The paper High chili intake and cognitive function among 4582 adults was published in the journal Nutrients.
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