Study: spicy food can help lower the risk of a high-fat diet

A new study from researchers at Penn State has shown that increasing the quantity of antioxidant spices – such as turmeric, cinnamon, and cloves – in fatty food lowers the level of triglycerides in the blood stream, NPR reported. High levels of triglycerides increase the risk of heart disease.

By comparing the triglyceride levels of people who ate the same meal with different amounts of a spice blend that contained turmeric, garlic, oregano, paprika, rosemary, and ginger, researchers were able to determine that the spices had a positive effect.

They found that levels dropped "even when the meal is rich in oil-based sauces and high in fat."

More from GlobalPost: Has Israel's regional isolation helped protect its economy?

The researchers documented up to a third decrease in the level of triglycerides in the blood of subjects who at the spicier food. "It was surprising," researcher Shelia West told NPR. "I didn't expect such a large decrease." 

The benefits of such findings could be broad: a cardiologist told NPR that keeping triglyceride levels down helps stave off heart disease and "can lower the risk of metabolic syndrome — as well as diabetes."

More from GlobalPost: Health, nutrition become focus at Davos

Researchers still aren't sure whether the health benefits are short or long term. Next the team plans to look at each spice in the blend individually in an attempt to isolate the most effective types and quantities.

Invest in global news with heart!

The World is a nonprofit newsroom powered by listener support. When you make a recurring gift, you’re making an investment that allows The World to cover the most important international stories with nuance and care. Our listeners are at the heart of what makes The World such an invaluable source for global news. Will you create a recurring donation today to power The World all year long?