Consumer reports: Spicy not salty

Grace Choi often uses hot peppers when she cooks, as a way to add an interesting flavor to her favorite recipes.

"I know that regardless of whatever it is that I'm making, I know that it is going to be something delicious because I love hot sauce and I love crushed red peppers and I love peppers really in any shape and form," said Chef Grace Choi.

Choi might also be getting an unexpected bonus. Turns out spicy foods may not only add some oomph to your meals but may be giving your health a boost too.

A recent study, published in the American Heart Association's journal, Hypertension found people who enjoyed eating spicy foods not only preferred less salty food but ate an estimated half-teaspoon less of it per day and had lower blood pressure.

A half-teaspoon of salt has 1,100 50 milligrams of sodium -- half of the 2,300-milligram daily maximum recommended by the American Heart Association.

"The researchers found that the spiciness from the hot peppers seems to activate a certain part of the brain that perceives saltiness, potentially tricking the brain into thinking that the food was saltier than it was. And experts think that this might be a good strategy for limiting your salt intake," said Consumer Reports Health Editor Julia Calderone.

Too much sodium can increase the risk of high blood pressure which can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke.

Which means one prescription, for better health, could already be in your kitchen.
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