If you love the extra spicy salsa, pouring hot sauce on everything, or freaking your friends out by eating hot peppers whole, then you’re in luck, because that might just prolong your life. That’s right, a new study suggests that people who eat peppers live longer. So let’s turn up the spice!
The study was published in the journal, PLOS One, and it suggests that people who ate spicy food over a number of years were less likely to die than those who didn’t. And that’s pretty awesome, because we love nothing more than when a study says something delicious like spicy food is actually good for us.
The key ingredient in the study, capsaicin, may reduce our risks of contracting diseases, and therefore help us live longer.
The study used data collected from 16,179 American men and women, who were participating in a larger public health study. The researchers controlled the data for age, sex, smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and other health and behavioral characteristics, so they could focus on those eating spicy foods. The study took place over 23 years. And during the study, 4,946 deaths occurred. At the end of the study, researchers found that the people who reported eating hot peppers regularly had a 13% reduced risk of dying early.
The key to the benefits is capsaicin.
This chemical found in hot peppers has already been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. So it’s possible that those effects are so beneficial that they actually improve the chance of dying early.
The study insists that it was only observational, so they can’t prove a causal connection.
The researchers don’t have data on how much spicy foods or what types the participants ate. Therefore, they don’t want to jump the gun and declare hot peppers the new miracle drug.
Benjamin Littenberg, a professor of medicine at the University of Vermont and one of the co-authors of the study says the date isn’t strong enough to recommend people change their diet. While the findings are interesting, he reminds us, “I don’t know how much chili pepper to tell you to eat.” But he can confidently tell us to not smoke too much, watch what we eat, don’t drink to excess, and get flu shots.
Still, if the research suggests spicy food is good for us, we’ll definitely be indulging without guilt.
After all, we only want to do what’s best for our health. So if cranking up the heat on our noodles, burritos and chicken wings is what we have to do, we think we can manage. Plus, hot sauce makes pretty much everything more delicious. It’s a win-win.