Eating hot red chili peppers may help us live longer

NEW research brings some good news for lovers of spicy foods, after finding that eating hot red chili peppers might help to extend lifespan. Consuming hot red chili peppers might reduce mortality risk, say researchers. A study of more than 16,000 people in the United States revealed that individuals who consumed red chili peppers had a lower risk of death from all causes over an average of 18 years than those who did not eat the spicy food.

Study co-authors Mustafa Chopan and Benjamin Littenberg, both from the University of Vermont College of Medicine, recently reported their findings in the journal PLOS One. Chili peppers are the fruits of the Capsicum plant, which belongs to the nightshade family. There are many types of chili pepper, all of which have different heat levels.
In hot peppers, such as jalapeños, the fiery flavor comes from a compound called capsaicin. Studies have suggested that this compound can offer a wealth of health benefits. A recent study reported by Medical News Today, for example, found that capsaicin might have the potential to halt breast cancer, while an earlier study linked the compound to a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.

According to Chopan and Littenberg, only one previous study – published in The BMJ in 2015 – has investigated how the consumption of spicy foods such as chili peppers can impact death risk. It found a link between regular consumption of such foods and reduced all-cause and cause-specific mortality.

The new study supports this association, after finding that people who eat hot red chili peppers might have a longer lifespan. All-cause mortality risk 13 percent lower with red chili pepper intake Chopan and Littenberg reached their findings by analyzing the data of 16,179 adults aged 18 or above who took part in the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey III between 1988 and 1994.

At the point of survey, participants’ consumption of hot red chili peppers over the past month was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire. The all-cause and cause-specific mortality of participants were monitored over a median follow-up period of 18.9 years using the National Death Index. During follow-up, 4,946 deaths occurred.

Compared with participants who did not consume hot red chili peppers, those who did were found to be at a 13 percent reduced risk of all-cause mortality.

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