Spice your diet with chilis, or any variation of jalapenos, cayenne or habaneros and enjoy a longer life, a new study suggests.
The research, published in the BMJ Medical Journal found a correlation between spicy food and reduced mortality risk from certain health issues.
The large scale research, conducted on approximately half a million people found that those who ate chili peppers, preferably fresh, over one time weekly presented a reduced mortality risk from ischemic heart disease or cancer. Not only that, but over the seven-year timeframe the study spanned, this group was found to have a reduced overall mortality rate.
What exactly makes chilis the essence of longevity, remains to be studied. Yet, researchers suggest that capsaicin, found in the peppers is the key to unlocking this secret.
The researchers at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard studied the dietary habits of 485,000 people in China. Particularly, the researchers were interested in how often the people, aged 30 to roughly 80 consumed spicy food, vegetables, red meat or alcohol.
The data regarding dietary habits was self-reported and analysed in connection with the participants’ medical records over the course of seven years. In the end, the researchers found that people who reported eating spicy food one to two times per week also had a 10 percent reduced mortality risk.
People who reported eating spicy food, including chili more than twice per week did not show a significant increase in the reduced mortality risk. The risk decreased only by 14 percent for people who ate the spicy food three to five times or six to seven times weekly.
Moreover, the researchers found that the specific correlations between eating spicy foods and reduced risk of mortality referred to death from respiratory system diseases, ischemic heart disease, cancer or diabetes. Women has a slight advantage compared to men.
It was further determined that those who ate spicy food, ate predominantly chilis or some variation of hot peppers. Is eating fresh chilis as efficient as powder or dry ones? According to the researchers, fresh chili is better.
Not only because of the higher dose of capsaicin, but also because it is richer in vitamins B6, K, A, and C, as well as potassium. And those who consumed more fresh chilis than dry ones were also found to fend off death risk from a wider array of health issues.
According to one of the authors of the paper, Lu Qi:
“Spicy food or its active components have been related to improved inflammation, reduced body adiposity, or improved lipid profiles”.
In addition, consuming spicy food and chilis was found to affect gut bacteria that was linked in previous studies to developing diabetes, obesity or cardiovascular disease.
Nothing is set in stone for now. The study, researchers say, despite being large scale, only found correlations. However, although little is known about how chili or spicy food affects health and longevity, there is certainly no harm in spicing up your life with a chili or two.
Photo Credits: cosmicchile.com