Lots of people ask me how they can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce high blood pressure by making changes to their diet.

Well, I have good new for fans of spicy food!

Researchers have found that the compounds that give chilli peppers their heat can lower high blood pressure and reduce blood cholesterol.

Capsaicinoids are the fiery compounds that give chillies their kick but they also encourage blood flow and researchers believe they could be a useful tool in helping to fight heart disease.

They found the spicy substances lowered levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol by reducing the accumulation of cholesterol in the body and increasing its breakdown and excretion.

They also blocked the action of a gene that makes arteries contract, restricting the flow of blood to the heart and other organs. By blocking it, the muscles relaxed and widened allowing more blood to flow.

So, how to get more chillies into your diet?  They make a great addition to a fresh salsa – simply chop up skinned tomatoes, half a cucumber which has been deseeded, a bunch of sliced spring onions, a couple of chillies – either red or green, a sploosh of olive oil, a fresh lime squeezed and bunch of fresh chopped coriander.

You can have this salsa with a bbq or serve with any grilled poultry, meat or fish.  You can use it to liven up an omelette or serve with  baked potato or add to a wrap.