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Herbs, spices can reduce blood pressure, research finds


The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says nearly half of American adults are living with high blood pressure (hypertension). Left untreated, this hypertension can lead to serious cardiovascular conditions, such as heart attack, stroke and heart failure. Individuals with hypertension are often advised to reduce their salt intake, as doing so can help reduce blood pressure levels. Now, a group of researchers from Pennsylvania State University has decided to investigate the health effects of herbs and spices, particularly whether they can benefit people with hypertension. The researchers conducted a randomized, controlled trial to look at the effect of longer-term consumption of herbs and spices on risk factors for cardiovascular disease. They found that a higher level of herbs and spices in food reduced 24-hour blood pressure readings. The findings appear in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Speaking to Medical News Today, Prof. Penny Kris-Etherton, one of the lead authors of the study, said: “Indeed, the blood pressure-lowering effects of herbs and spices in an average Western diet were surprising to me. “We [already know] about the effects of many lifestyle factors, especially dietary factors, that can increase blood pressure — such as sodium, alcohol, and caffeine — and others that can decrease blood pressure, such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium, […] weight loss, physical activity, and some vitamins, including folate and vitamin D when intake is low, but the blood pressure-lowering effects of herbs and spices are new!” *Image by monicore from Pixabay

Red Hot Chilli Peppers Linked to Longer Lifespan


Great news for fans of spicy food as research finds a link between eating red hot chilli peppers and a longer lifespan. The study of more than 16,000 people living in the United States found that those who ate red hot chilli peppers - ranging from a single chilli to several chillies every day - had a 13% lower risk of death from all causes compared to individuals who didn't eat them. Study co-authors Mustafa Chopan and Benjamin Littenberg, both from the Robert Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, recently published their findings in the journal PLOS One. While it still hasn't been determined exactly why chilli peppers might extend lifespan, the researchers believe it is likely down to capsaicin, which activities transient receptor potential (TRP) channels. Capsaicin is also where chilli peppers get their distinctive fiery flavour. There are many different types of chilli pepper, all with varying levels of heat. They are the fruits of the Capsicum plant, which belongs to the nightshade family. Capsaicin is also believed to have anti-inflammatory and/or anti-oxidant effects, as well as helping to boost the metabolism, which can help combat obesity. The team says that further study is needed to investigate the benefits of other spices and differential effects of certain chilli pepper sub-types, which "may lead to new insights into the relationships between diet and health, updated dietary recommendations, and the development of new therapies."

iPads, Tablets Keep Kids Calm Before Surgery


When it comes to lowering a child's anxiety before surgery, iPads and tablets can have as much effect as sedatives, according to preliminary research presented at the World Congress of Anaesthesiologists in Hong Kong this week. The French team behind the research conducted a simple experiment with more than 100 children (aged 4-10) and their parents. Prior to undergoing an outpatient surgical procedure that required a general anaesthetic, half of the children were given the sedative midazolam, while the other half were allowed to play games on an iPad. All patients and their families reported similar levels of anxiety relief ahead of the surgery. However, the parents in the iPad group said they were happier with how the anaesthesia process went. This sentiment was echoed by the nurses involved in the procedures. "Our study showed that child and parental anxiety before anaesthesia are equally blunted by midazolam or use of the iPad," said Dr. Dominique Chassard, study author and an anaesthesiologist at the Hospices Civils de Lyon in France. "However, the quality of induction of anaesthesia, as well as parental satisfaction, were judged better in the iPad group," he added. The French researchers did not offer any reasons for why playing games on a tablet was so helpful, but possible reasons range from them being a simple distraction to allowing the child to have an experience that feels less medical and, therefore, less threatening.