People who are fond of adding hot chili peppers to their stews and sauces may be adding to their heart health. Of 22,811 women and men living in southern Italy, 24.3% regularly ate chili peppers four or more times a week. These peppers are part of the Mediterranean diet.

After following the group for a median 8.2 years, researchers reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that regularly eating chili peppers was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular death, particularly in people without hypertension. The effect was greater for death from ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease. The authors noted that people who regularly ate chili peppers also adhered more closely to the full Mediterranean diet compared with those who ate no or few chili peppers. Readers take note: This study refers to hot chili peppers, not the benign bell pepper.