“We found that long-term dietary consumption of capsaicin, one of the most abundant components in chili peppers, could reduce blood pressure in genetically hypertensive rats,” said Zhiming Zhu of Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China.
The blood vessel impact is due to chronic activation of something called the transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) channel found in the lining of blood vessels. Activation of the channel leads to an increase in production of nitric oxide, a gaseous molecule known to protect blood vessels against inflammation and dysfunction, Zhu explained.
A mild Japanese pepper contains a compound called capsinoid that is closely related to capsaicin and has a similar effect.
“Limited studies show that these capsinoids produce effects similar to capsaicin,” Zhu says. “I believe that some people can adopt this sweet pepper.”
Dachun Yang, Zhidan Luo, Shuangtao Ma, Wing Tak Wong, Liqun Ma, Jian Zhong, Hongbo He, Zhigang Zhao, Tingbing Cao, Zhencheng Yan, Daoyan Liu, William J. Arendshorst, Yu Huang, Martin Tepel, Zhiming Zhu. Activation of TRPV1 by Dietary Capsaicin Improves Endothelium-Dependent Vasorelaxation and Prevents Hypertension. Cell Metabolism, 2010; 12 (2): 130-141 DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2010.05.015