People Who Eat Chili Peppers May Live Longer, Study Suggests
Not traditionally a fan of spicy foods? You may want to reconsider. Along with adding intense flavor to a dish, red chili peppers, research suggests, may also add a few years to your life.
According to research, which will be presented this week at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2020, people who eat chili pepper may live longer than those who don't.
Health benefits of chili peppers.
Red chili peppers have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and blood sugar-regulating1 properties. Some studies have even shown the food may be beneficial in protecting against certain types of cancer2. All of these health benefits have been linked to capsaicin, an active component in the pepper that gives it its distinctive spicy flavor.
To further understand this phenomenon, researchers looked at 4,729 studies with more than 570,000 participants, which analyzed the outcomes of people who ate chili peppers. They found that people who ate chili peppers lowered their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 26%, cancer by 23%, and all causes by 25%.
"We were surprised to find that in these previously published studies, regular consumption of chili pepper was associated with an overall risk-reduction of all-cause, CVD, and cancer mortality," lead author of the study and cardiologist Bo Xu, M.D., said in a news release. "It highlights that dietary factors may play an important role in overall health."
What else you need to know.
While the associations are promising, Xu says researchers are unclear exactly why chili peppers are linked to lower mortality rates. They're also unsure how many chili peppers, how often, and which variety people need to eat for these benefits.
"Therefore, it is impossible to conclusively say that eating more chili pepper can prolong life and reduce deaths, especially from cardiovascular factors or cancer," he adds. More research is necessary to validate the findings and explain the connection.
Since chili pepper is relatively harmless (depending on your spice threshold, that is), adding it to soups, pastas, salads, and of course, chili, could be an easy way to absorb some of the fruit's potential longevity-enhancing benefits.
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.