A recent study finds this simple strategy can improve your heart health.

By Perri Ormont Blumberg
February 01, 2018
Hero Images/Getty Images

If you're all about bringing on the heat at the dining room table, it could be good news for your heart health. An October 2017 study in the American Heart Association's journal, Hypertension, found that people who enjoyed consuming spicy foods preferred less salty food (high salt intake is a known contributor of hypertension or high blood pressure), consumed around a half-teaspoon less of salt a day, and had lower blood pressure.

WATCH: 9 Healthy Kitchen Staples That Cost Less Than $1 Per Serving

Simply put, noshing on spicy foods may convince your brain to crave less salt, which in turn can positively impact your blood pressure (and by extension heart health and overall health). Interestingly, when the study's scientists looked at participants' brain scans, they found that the parts of our brains stimulated by salt and spiciness overlap. Additionally, spicy foods amped up brain responses to areas activated by salt.

Of course, to reap the benefits of spicy food, it's important that you're eating healthy fare, such as a veggie-filled bean chili with plenty of cayenne or a zingy arugula salad with sliced jalapeños, tomatoes, avocado and balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Well, pass the avocados. One order of spicy guacamole, coming right up!