A new study on the link between chili and dementia may bring bad news for spicy food addicts. Researchers have found that eating lots of chili may cause an increased risk of dementia, reports Xinhua.
The study, led by Zumin Shi, associate professor at the College of Health Sciences of Qatar University, analyzed 4,582 Chinese adults aged 55 and above between 1991 and 2006 and found evidence of faster cognitive decline in those who consistently ate more than 50 grams of chili a day.
"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," Shi said in a press release published Tuesday.
Chili intake included both fresh and dried chili peppers but not sweet capsicum or black pepper, explained Ming Li of the University of Southern Australia, an author of the study.
"Chili is one of the most commonly used spices in the world and particularly popular in Asia compared to European countries," Li said in the press release. "In certain regions of China, such as Sichuan and Hunan, almost one in three adults consumes spicy food every day."
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, researchers said.
The researchers said people of normal body weight may be more sensitive to chili intake than overweight people and hence their memory and weight suffer a bigger impact.
Worldwide, around 50 million people have dementia, and Alzheimer's disease is the most common form that may contribute to 60 percent to 70 percent of the cases, according to the World Health Organization.
Currently, no treatment can cure dementia or alter its progressive course.
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