The findings in rats should be confirmed in humans through epidemiological analysis, the researchers said. In fact, there were already some clues: the prevalence of hypertension is over 20% in Northeastern China compared to 10-14% in Southwestern China, including Sichuan, Guozhuo, Yunnan, Hunan, and Chongqing, where Zhu is from.
"People in these regions like to eat hot and spicy foods with a lot of chili peppers," Zhu says. "For example, a very famous local food in my hometown, Chongqing, is the spicy hot pot."
It isn't yet clear just how many capsaicin-containing chili peppers a day you'd have to eat to "keep the doctor away," although that's a question that should now be examined in greater detail, Zhu says.
For those who can't tolerate spicy foods, there might still be hope. Zhu notes the existence of a mild Japanese pepper, which contains a compound called capsinoid that is closely related to capsaicin.
"Limited studies show that these capsinoids produce effects similar to capsaicin," Zhu says. "I believe that some people can adopt this sweet pepper."
Source: Cell Press