Eat chili peppers to cut your stroke risk in half, even on a bad diet

When you bite into a chili pepper, a lot of thoughts go through your mind…

“Oh, this isn’t that spicy.”

“Wait, maybe it is!”

“Oh no! My mouth is on fire… and I’m all out of milk!”

But there’s one thought that probably never crosses your mind when your mouth is burning and tingling with that powerful chili flavor…

“I’m reducing my risk of a heart attack right now.”

I know, I know, you have more urgent things to think about than heart health — your mouth feels like it’s full of lava! But once the fire calms down, you should remind yourself of this important fact:

Chili peppers don’t only have a powerful effect on your taste buds. They have a powerful effect on your cardiovascular system too.

In fact, research shows chili peppers can lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Case in point?

A new study from Italian researchers shows eating chili peppers multiple times per week can significantly reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. Better stock up on milk!

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Chili peppers slash heart attack and stroke risk in half

Recent research from the Mediterranean Neurological Institute in Italy shows that eating chili peppers four times per week could put you on the path to a much healthier cardiovascular system.

The study included data from 22,811 people whose health was tracked for about eight years. Their eating habits were also recorded at the start of the study. And guess what?

People who ate chili peppers four times per week were 40 percent less likely to have a heart attack. They were also half as likely to have a stroke.

But the good news doesn’t stop there…

Eating chili peppers reduced their risk of dying from any cause by 23 percent. Not too shabby.

You may be wondering why chili peppers have such a positive effect on health — especially cardiovascular health.

Well, chili peppers contain a lot of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. But most of their health benefits come from the plant compound that gives them their kick — capsaicin.

Research shows capsaicin can fight obesity, moderate blood flow to your heart and fight bacteria, among other things.

A few more facts to know about chili peppers…

There’s something else I should mention about this study…

Chili peppers slashed cardiovascular disease risk whether people ate a healthy diet or not. That means chili peppers could be a simple way to keep cardiovascular disease risk down even when you fall off the healthy eating wagon.

Of course, chili peppers aren’t for everybody. Some people just can’t (or don’t want to) handle the heat. If that’s the case, there are plenty of other ways to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke (like sauna bathing — which is great for heart attack and stroke risk). And if you have stomach problems, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), proceed cautiously with chilis. They can make the problem worse for some people.

And FYI… some studies show that chili peppers could increase the risk of certain types of cancer. The connection isn’t a sure thing (some studies show chili peppers reduce cancer risk). Still, it’s something to be aware of before you start popping chili peppers daily.

If you do decide to add more chili peppers to your diet, remember they come in all different spice levels. If you can’t handle super spicy varieties (like the habanero, Thai pepper or the Charleston hot pepper), try something more moderate (like the jalapeno pepper, the chipotle pepper, the serrano pepper or the cayenne pepper). Or if you want to start off even slower, turn to mild peppers (like pepperoncini, the poblano pepper or the Anaheim pepper).

The spicier the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains. So, the mild varieties won’t give you as many heart benefits. But super spicy peppers are like torture for people with super-sensitive taste buds, so stick to something that doesn’t make you feel like you put your tongue on a hot plate.

Editor’s Note: The results of a $100 million dollar study were recently presented to the American Heart Association. The verdict? Heart procedures don’t seem to help people with stable heart disease avoid heart attacks more than drugs and lifestyle changes do. So before you submit to any heart treatment, discover the truth you won’t find at your doctor’s office: Read this FREE report…


  1. Consumption of chili pepper cuts down the risk of death from a heart or cerebral attack — MedicalXpress
  2. Chili Pepper Consumption and Mortality in Italian AdultsJournal of the American College of Cardiology
  3. Study finds association between eating hot peppers and decreased mortality — MedicalXpress
  4. The Association of Hot Red Chili Pepper Consumption and Mortality: A Large Population-Based Cohort StudyPLOS One
  5. Spice Up Your Life: The Health Benefits of Spicy Foods — Penn Medicine
  6. Chili Peppers 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Effects — Healthline
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and