Why eating spicy food may increase risk of dementia

People who eat lots of spicy food may have higher risk of dementia


People who eat lots of spicy food may have higher risk of dementia, new research suggests.

Those who consumed in excess of 50 grammes of chili a day had almost double the risk of memory decline and poor cognition,  15-year-long study claims.

The study, conducted among 4,582 Chinese adults aged over 55, found evidence of faster cognitive decline in those who consistently ate over 50 grammes of chili a day.

The team of researchers, led by Zumin Shi from Qatar University, said people of normal body weight may be more sensitive to chili intake than overweight people, hence the impact on memory and weight. Memory decline was even more significant if the chili lovers were slim, according to the study 

Those who ate a lot of chili had a lower income and body mass index (BMI) and were more physically active compared to non-consumers. The study was published in the journal Nutrients.

"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," Zumin said.

Chili intake included both fresh and dried chili peppers but not sweet capsicum or black pepper, researchers said.

"Chili is one of the most commonly used spices in the world and particularly popular in Asia compared to European countries," said researcher Ming Li from University of South Australia.

"In certain regions of China, such as Sichuan and Hunan, almost one in three adults consume spicy food every day," Li said.

Capsaicin is the active component in chili which reportedly speeds up metabolism, fat loss and inhibits vascular disorders but this is the first longitudinal study to investigate the association between chili intake and cognitive function.

(With inputs from PTI)