New Study Finds Eating Spicy Food Doubles Your Chances of Dementia

Chilis may be good for weight loss, but they're bad for the brain.

Using chili peppers in a dish is a great way to spice up a meal, and they're particularly popular in Asian cuisine. But, according to a new study published in the journal Nutrients, they can also speed up the onset of dementia.

Researchers out of Qatar University assessed the chili intake and rate of cognitive decline of nearly 5,000 Chinese adults aged 55 and older over a 15-year period. They found that those who consumed more than 50 grams of chili peppers per day had almost double the risk of cognitive decline than those who abstained from them. Interestingly enough, the impact of the food on memory loss seemed to be stronger in those who had lower BMIs and were more physically active, which researchers believe may be due to their heightened sensitivity.

"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," Dr. Zumin Shi, an professor of Human Nutrition at Qatar University's College of Health Sciences and the lead author of this study, said in a press release.

The research included both fresh and dried chili peppers, but excluded sweet pepper and black pepper, the latter of which is arguably a more popular spice in America. But condiments that are made from chili peppers, such as Sriracha, are becoming increasingly popular stateside.

As Shi noted, there are also some serious benefits to capsaicin—the component in chili peppers that gives them that heat. It increases a person's ability to burn fat, can help people live longer, and can even give your libido a boost. But if you want to stay sharp well into old age, this new research suggests it's better to skip the Sriracha.

And for more advice on what to eat to stave off dementia, check out The 50 Best Foods for Your Brain.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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