You may want to spice things up in your life, and no, we’re not talking about whispering sweet nothings between the sheets. According to an international team of researchers led by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, eating spicy foods may be the key to longevity. They found that eating such foods on a regular basis can help prevent people from dying prematurely by 14 percent. While a variety of spicy foods are excellent, one in particular caught their attention.
It was noted that consumption of fresh chili pepper, compared to other spicy foods, was most effective in providing people with a lower risk of dying from cancer, ischemic heart disease and diabetes. It’s explained that fresh chili pepper’s combination of powerful ingredients are responsible for such health-boosting benefits.
Study: fresh chili pepper best spicy food to help reduce risk of early death
“Compared with non-fresh spicy foods such as dried chilli pepper, chilli sauce or chilli oil,” says Lu Qi, associate professor at Harvard School of Public Health, “fresh chilli pepper is richer in bioactive ingredients, including capsaicin, vitamin C, and other nutrients such as vitamin A, K, and B6 and potassium.”
To conduct the study, the experts from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences assessed nearly 490,000 participants from the China Kadoorie Biobank. All individuals responded to a questionnaire in which they answered questions pertaining to physical measurements, general health and consumption of red meats, spicy foods, vegetables and alcohol. For example, once such question went as follows: “During the past month, about how often did you eat hot spicy foods?” Respondents selected from these options: never or almost never, only occasionally, 1 or 2 days a week, 3 to 5 days a week, or 6 or 7 days a week. Those who chose from the last three options were then directed to answer questions about the kinds of spices used, and involved choices such as fresh chilli pepper, dried chilli pepper and chilli oil.
Regular consumption of spicy foods essential
After a follow-up that averaged approximately seven years, 20,224 deaths were noted. Analysis of these people led to the finding that compared to those who ingested spicy foods less than once weekly, people who ate such foods one or two days per week had a 10 percent reduced risk of death. More impressive however, was the discovery that those who enjoyed spicy foods nearly every other day were at a 14 percent lowered risk of death compared to those who ate them less than once a week.
The findings were published in BMJ in an article titled, “Consumption of spicy foods and total and cause specific mortality: population based cohort study.” It begins by detailing use of spices throughout history as a way to enhance flavor, preserve food and change coloring. It then delves into the demographic and health information of the participants as well as methods of analysis, ultimately concluding the following:
In this large prospective study, we observed an inverse association between consumption of spicy foods and total mortality, after adjusting for potential confounders. Compared with those who ate spicy foods less than once a week, those who consumed spicy foods almost every day had a 14% lower risk of death. Inverse associations were also observed for deaths due to cancer, ischemic heart diseases, and respiratory diseases. The associations were consistent in men and women.
It’s also noted that this “…study is the first to analyze the association between daily consumption of spicy foods and mortality in a prospective cohort.”
Consider adding more spicy foods to your meals on a regular basis. They intensify flavors of other foods, making dishes even more enjoyable. Add to this the finding that such foods play a role in preventing an early death, and it’s a food addition well worth exploring.
There are so many ways to eat for your health. Eating spicy food is just one of them.
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