Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s, affecting about one million people in the United States and an estimated four million worldwide.According to a new study, peppers may reduce your chances of getting Parkinson's disease. The different kind of peppers that are an integral part of almost every cuisine from around the world may be effective in shielding people from the onset of this degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. The ability of peppers to lower Parkinson's risk is believed to be stemming from the presence of nicotine in it.
— National Parkinson Foundation, Florida
— National Parkinson Foundation, Florida
Peppers are a member of the Solanaceae species of plants that contain low levels of nicotine. Previous studies have indicated that nicotine from cigarettes tend to decrease the risk of Parkinson's disease. It is this nicotine found naturally in peppers that may be delivering a protective effect against this disease that targets the motor skills. Other vegetables belonging to the Solanaceae group of plants that tend to lower the risk of Parkinson's disease include tomatoes, potatoes, cauliflower, and eggplants. All these vegetables contain nicotine in small amounts, which is believed to protect us from this degenerative neurological disorder.
The Observations from the Scientific Study Conducted
The research, published in the May 9, 2013 edition of Annals of Neurology, was conducted by scientists at the University of Washington in Seattle. The study suggests that an increased intake of vegetables with naturally-occurring nicotine, particularly peppers, may benefit in lowering the chances of developing this disease, which is also called idiopathic or primary parkinsonism. The study was a survey in which 490 people suffering from Parkinson's disease and another group of 644 people who did not have any neurological impairments were asked to fill a questionnaire regarding their dietary and smoking habits.
After studying the diets of the subjects in both the groups, the researchers observed that the intake of vegetables that contain nicotine possibly helps in slashing the risk of Parkinson's disease. In the study, participants who were consuming these vegetables had 19% less chances of getting Parkinson's in comparison to their counterparts who refrained from eating these vegetables.
According to the study, when compared to those who ate peppers less than once a week, people who ate peppers twice to four times in a week were seen to have 30% less chances of being afflicted with PD. Those consuming peppers in higher amounts showed a greater risk-lowering association, i.e., consumption of peppers 5-6 times a week slashed the Parkinson's risk by 50% in such people. Preliminary evidence suggests that higher the consumption of peppers, lower will be the chances of developing Parkinson's.
The positive effect of peppers in reducing the risk of developing Parkinson's was found to be insignificant in people who were using some form of tobacco. It is believed that the habit of smoking may be inhibiting the beneficial role played by peppers and other such vegetables. The study also noted that eating vegetables other than those that belong to the Solanaceae family does not help in reducing the risk of Parkinson's disease. The benefit was specifically associated with vegetables that contain nicotine.
How to Interpret the Observations
The result of the study that suggests the perceived benefits of nicotine should not be misinterpreted. One should not jump to the conclusion that nicotine keeps Parkinson's disease at bay. The study does not have any conclusive evidence to prove that it is indeed nicotine and not some other compound in these vegetables that is inhibiting the onset of Parkinson's in people. More research is needed before drawing any conclusion about nicotine's ability to protect people from this neurological problem.
Also, just because cigarette contains nicotine, it would be foolish to assume that smoking paves way for the prevention of Parkinson's disease. Cigarette smoke contains hundreds of chemicals that are harmful for your body. So, smoking should still strike a fear-inducing chord with you as it can cause cancer.
Nevertheless, the research has yielded promising results and although further investigations are warranted, eating peppers regularly will certainly do no harm. So be it the chili pepper that adds a dash of spice to your everyday meals or the healthy stuffed bell peppers that are easy to make, you can find different ways to include peppers in your diet throughout the week.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.