Trying to crave less salty foods? You might just need to add some heat to your dish instead! According to a new study that was published this week in Hypertension, the journal of the American Heart Association, people who eat spicy foods tend to crave less salt and have lower blood pressure. Their findings come from a study conducted in China where they had 606 Chinese adults participate to see if eating spicy foods made people more sensitive to salt. Senior study author, Zhiming Zhu M.D., professor and director of the Department of Hypertension and Endocrinology at the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China stated, “Previously, a pilot study found that trace amounts of capsaicin, the chemical that gives chili peppers their pungent smell, enhanced the perception of food being salty. We wanted to test whether this effect would also reduce salt consumption.”
The researchers explained how they used brain-imaging techniques to observe each participant’s insular and orbitofrontal cortices, two parts of the brain which become activated when a person consumes a salty food. Their results showed that those regions of the brain also became triggered when a person ate spicy foods and that the spicy foods further increased brain activity in the areas that were activated by salt. Thus, the researchers concluded this activity derived from eating spicy foods may increase a person’s sensitivity to salt, causing them to crave less of it.
Though we often discuss how harmful it can be for you and your family to consume too much sugar, it is equally important for you to be aware of how much sodium you are consuming on a daily basis as well. The American Heart Association states that more than 75% of the sodium Americans eat comes from processed, prepackaged and restaurant foods. That’s an alarming percentage and also another reason why it is a great idea for you to look up the food products you and your family are eating via our FoodFacts app. Our app will not only give you a complete list of ingredients found in each food item you scan or search for, it will also give you a breakdown of the item’s nutrition per serving size. The American Heart Association recommends that you consume no more than one teaspoon of salt per day, which is equivalent to 2,300 mg of sodium. With the help of our app as well as adding some more spice to your plate, you can stay safely within those sodium parameters and enjoy foods that aren’t so salty. Have fun creating dishes that are full of flavor with a touch of heat, and overtime you may be surprised at how you no longer reach for the salt shaker.