A recent study suggests eating spicy food regularly could lead to a longer life.
The study was only observational and could not draw a concrete conclusion, but it highlights the potential benefit of conducting more research on the subject, the British Medical Journal reported.
Spicy foods contain the bioactive ingredient capsaicin, which has already been shown to have "anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammation and anticancer" properties. To gain more insight into capsaicin's impact on death risk from any cause, a team of researchers looked at 487,375 participants between the ages of 30 and 79 who were part of the China Kadoorie Biobank. The participants completed a questionnaire that touched on their overall health, physical measurements, and consumption of spicy food. During a median follow-up of 7.2 years, there were 20,224 deaths.
The team observed a 10 percent reduced risk in death in participants who consumed spicy foods once or twice a week compared with those who had spicy meals less than once a week. Those who ate spicy food between three and seven times per week were found to have a 14 percent reduced risk of death from any cause. Regular consumption of spicy food was also linked to a lower risk of death from cancer, and ischaemic heart and respiratory system disease, which was more prevalent among women. The reduced risk of death from any cause associated with spicy food consumption was similar in both men and women, but was more pronounced in patients that did not consume alcohol.
Fresh and dried chili pepper were the most common source of spice consumed among the participants, and those who ate this specific type of pepper were observed to have a reduced risk of death from cancer, ischaemic heart disease, and diabetes.
The researchers believe this correlation occurs because of the bioactive ingredients in hot pepper, and fresh chilies have higher levels of capsaicin, vitamin C, and other nutrients.
The researchers believe further research on the subject could "lead to updated dietary recommendations and development of functional foods," the researchers reported.
The study was led by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and was published in the British Medical Journal.