A recent study in 500,000 people has found an association between consumption of spicy foods and living longer. The study, which followed half a million Chinese people between the ages of 30 and 79 for seven years, found that those who ate spicy food 3 or more times per week were 14% less likely to die during the study period. This who ate spicy food 1 or 2 times per week were 10% less likely to die than the infrequent spice-eaters.
The researchers point out that this is a correlative finding, not a cause-and-effect study – but with the large number of participants, it is an interesting observation.
The spices the participants used were fresh and dried chilies, chili oil, and chili sauce.
So what is it about spicy food that may benefit health and longevity? Previous research has found that spicy food may reduce inflammation and change the composition of gut bacteria, so that may play a role. Or is there something in chili peppers that’s beneficial for our bodies?
Scientists don’t yet know for sure, but this finding ensures that more of this “hot” research is in the works.
You can see an abstract of the study at the BMJ website.