Spicy foods may significantly reduce salt preference
According to the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most Americans consume more sodium than they should…to the tune of more than 3,400 milligrams per day. Sodium intake at this level presents a few concerns, which include putting us at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. The recommendation is to aim for less than 2,300 milligrams per day. Where does sodium come from and how does it add up so quickly? You may think your salt shaker is to blame, but in reality, more than 75% of the sodium intake in the US comes from processed foods and restaurant meals.
If sodium is a concern for you, consider eating more potassium rich fruits and vegetables like bananas and spinach. Research shows that potassium can help reduce blood pressure. Alternatively, new research published in Hypertension suggests that spicy foods may have a profound effect on salt appeal. Six hundred six adults were interviewed and asked their preference for salty or spicy flavors. Their preferences were then compared with blood pressure, where scientists found that those who had an inclination for spice, had lower salt intake as well as lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure numbers. Investigators also looked at the part of the brain responsible for subjective taste intensity, known as the insula. They found that when a small amount of capsaicin, a compound in peppers that contributes pungent eye watering tang, was consumed, even if it did not contribute a hot flavor, perception of saltiness increased. This is explained by imaging that shows that the brain regions activated by capsaicin overlapped with the regions stimulated by salty taste. Researchers explained that increased brain activity likely makes people more sensitive to salt so that they can enjoy food with less of it!
For both a potassium punch and a hint of spice you may like our Hot and Spicy Plantains or our Spicy Plantain Soup.
Published February 1, 2018