Health & Wellness

Too Much Spicy Food May Boost Dementia Risk

Before you add more chili powder to that sauce, you might want to reconsider how spicy your diet is


A recent study has linked consuming large amounts of fresh or dried chili with an increased risk for dementia.

Researchers from the University of South Australia studied the diets of 4,582 Chinese adults over 55 for 15 years and found those who ate more than 50 grams (1.76 ounces) of chili a day developed cognitive problems at a faster rate than those who didn’t. Those who ate that much chili had twice the risk for memory decline. Researchers also found those who were slimmer experienced more severe memory problems and speculated that people with a normal body weight may be more sensitive to the effects of chili.

Previous studies have found that capsaicin, the main component in chili peppers, may be neurotoxic, which may explain the potential link between it and dementia.

Chili is common in Asian dishes; in some regions of China, almost one in three adults eat chilis and other spicy foods on a daily basis.

With this being the first study to examine the link between memory and capsaicin, that other factors may be involved has yet to be ruled out.

“It is well known that level of education affects cognitive function. In our study, there was a significant difference in chili intake among people with different education levels,” researchers wrote. “Therefore, it is possible that the effect of education may contribute to the relationship between chili intake and cognitive function.”

There’s still a lack of consensus on whether eating chili in moderation is good for you, especially given that the study looked only at people over 55. Previous studies have found those who include chili in their diet have less hypertension and lower rates of obesity and mortality.










Photo: iStock/19msa05.