High salt intake is linked heavily to hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and more. But, how does one stop craving for salt — be it in fries, potato chips or through other sources? A recent study has revealed that there's an easy way to tame that craving.
The study, published in the journal Hypertension, revealed that consumption of spicy food might help curb the craving for something salty.
Researchers did a "taste test" of 606 adults using solutions containing salt or capsaicin — a component that gives peppers the heat. It was done to determine the sensitivity of the participants and their preference for those flavours.
The participants were then given a food questionnaire to identify how often they ate salty or spicy food. The urine samples and blood pressure tests of the participants were also taken.
After the study, the researchers concluded that people who ate spicy foods consumed less salt — about 2.5 grams less per day — and also had lower blood pressure readings than those who ate less spicy foods.
"We think that spicy food can trick our brain when tasting salty food. It makes us taste the same (level of) saltiness even when a reduced amount of salt is actually consumed," study author Dr Zhiming Zhu, professor and director of the Department of Hypertension and Endocrinology at the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China, told CNN.
When the researchers used scans to examine the two regions of the study participants' brains, they found both are involved in the salty taste perception.
"We found that the enjoyment of spicy food can enhance salty taste sensitivity by modifying the salty taste in the brain," Zhu told Men's Health.
The research also mentions that cutting salt intake too much can put people at risk of dehydration and low blood pressure. The American Heart Association's (AHA) recommends a limit of 2,400 milligrams of salt per day, which is just a teaspoon of salt.
So, if you struggling to cut down on salt intake, the easiest way is to add spicy foods to the diet. Even eating a small amount of it daily may be beneficial, says Zhu.
However, what if you can't take the heat? Zhu says: "Some peppers are not spicy at all, but they contain capsaicin." The best example is bell peppers. add them to your diet to curb salt intake.