Objective: To investigate the effects of regular chilli ingestion on some indicators of metabolic and vascular function.
Design: A randomized cross-over dietary intervention study.
Setting: Launceston, Australia.
Subjects: Healthy free-living individuals.
Intervention: Thirty-six participants (22 women and 14 men), aged 46+/-12 (mean+/-s.d.) years; BMI 26.4+/-4.8 kg/m(2), consumed 30 g/day of a chilli blend (55% cayenne chilli) with their normal diet (chilli diet), and a bland diet (chilli-free) for 4 weeks each. Metabolic and vascular parameters, including plasma glucose, serum lipids and lipoproteins, insulin, basal metabolic rate, blood pressure, heart rate, augmentation index (AIx; an indicator of arterial stiffness), and subendocardial-viability ratio (SEVR; a measure of myocardial perfusion), were measured at the end of each diet. In a sub-study, during week 3 of each dietary period, the vascular responses of 15 subjects to glyceryl-trinitrate (GTN) and salbutamol were also studied.
Results: For the whole group, there were no significant differences between any of the measured parameters when compared at the end of the two dietary periods. When analysed separately, men had a lower resting heart rate (P=0.02) and higher SEVR (P=0.05) at the end of the chilli diet than the bland diet. In the sub-study, baseline AIx on the chilli diet was lower (P<0.001) than on the bland diet, but there was no difference in the effects of GTN and salbutamol between the two diets.
Conclusion: Four weeks of regular chilli consumption has no obvious beneficial or harmful effects on metabolic parameters but may reduce resting heart rate and increase effective myocardial perfusion pressure time in men.