High salt intake is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified salt as a key dietary component in need of reducing to fight mortality from disease. Most people consume more salt than what the WHO outlines as healthy. A recent research study may have found an interesting avenue for reducing salt intake. Researchers found that a preference for spicy foods equaled a reduction in dietary salt intake.

The study was published in Hypertension and assessed the salt intake of spice lovers vs spice haters. They found that the spice lovers consumed 2.5 grams less salt a day. They had lower blood pressure levels too. Researchers tested a theory as to why spice lovers consumed less salt. It appears that consuming spice increases sensitivity to saltiness. This could lead to craving less of it. They ran brain scans in both mice and humans and found that brain activity in the areas associated with taste changed with the consumption of spice.

While 2.5 grams may not sound like a big number, it’s just half a gram less than the WHO’s recommended reduction. Decreased salt consumption helps cut the risk for cardiovascular disease. This could be an interesting way to go about it. However, study into the health effects of increased spice consumption may be needed. That needs to be considered before making any official recommendations. At this point, it’s just food for thought.

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