More on Diet

For a very nicely written account of the evidence and reasoning behind recent changes in European and North American guidelines on fat intake, take a look at a recent BMJ editorial by Kromhout.[1] Advice to reduce total fat has been rescinded on both sides of the Atlantic. Increasing unsaturated fat consumption remains good news, eat lots of vegetables and don’t worry about the cholesterol content of the food itself. How about hot spicy foods loved by the CLAHRC WM Director? The very next editorial refers.[2] Good news! All-cause mortality was associated with a 14% (10-18%) reduction in all-cause mortality with specific reductions in both cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Cause and effect? Well the active compound of chilli, capsaicin, has many potentially beneficial biochemical effects – anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, pro-biotic, and so on. But we have been here before – plausible biological explanations, followed by association studies, only to be disproven later – witness the fat story. So is it good that the CLAHRC WM Director is the kind of person who eats spicy foods, or are the spicy foods good?

— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director


  1. Kromhout D. Where the latest US dietary guidelines are heading. BMJ. 2015; 351: h4034.
  2. Forouhi NG. Consumption of hot spicy foods and mortality. BMJ. 2015; 351: h4141.

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