July 23, 2019
A recently released study suggests that people who eat lots of spicy food could be at greater risk for memory loss and dementia as they age.
The study, which comes out of the University of South Australia and Qatar University, looked at the diets of 4,852 people in China spanning 15 years. Researchers found evidence of faster cognitive decline among adults, ages 55 and older, who consistently consumed chili pepper every day.
Those who ate an excess of 50 grams of chili daily had almost double the risk of memory decline and poor cognition, the study found. Scientists looked at people's intake of both fresh and dried chili peppers.
“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, a researcher from Qatar University.
Capsaicin, an active component found in chilis, speeds up the metabolism and inhibits vascular disorders. Those who reported eating a lot of spicy food had lower body mass indexes and were more physically active than the non-chili eaters, scientists said. Researchers also found that memory decline was more pronounced among chili eaters who were slim.
This is the first study that investigated the associated risks with cognitive function.