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Surprising Science

Spicy Foods Offer Protections Against an Early Grave

Recent data suggests there are some health benefits from adding a little spice to your foods.

Eat spicy food and you may lower your risk of an early death, according to a new study from a group of researchers at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.

The team’s analysis was observational only, looking to see if eating spicy foods influenced health and wellness. Well, the researchers were successful in their study after gathering data from 487,375 participants, between the ages of 30 to 79 years, from the China Kadoorie Biobank. The data was taken between the years of 2004 to 2008, and afterward researchers followed up on mortality. 

The participants completed a questionnaire, which asked them about their eating habits, including their consumption of spicy foods. After seven years, the researchers followed up with participants finding 20,224 had died. They found that “the habitual consumption of spicy foods was inversely associated with total and certain cause-specific mortality, independent of other risk factors of death.” Participants who made a habit of eating spicy foods (around three to five days out of the week) had a 14 percent reduced risk of death, compared to participants who consumed only one spicy meal a week. Lack of alcohol consumption also helped strengthen this association.

The most common spice of choice for participants were fresh and dried chilli peppers. The researchers found those who used the former when cooking seemed to have some protections against cancer, ischaemic heart disease, and diabetes. Though, no conclusions can be drawn quite yet; the researchers noted that those who consumed fresh chilli peppers had a lower risk of dying from those diseases. However, they note that fresh chilli is richer in nutrients, such as capsaicin and vitamin C, which may explain the lessened rate of having these diseases. But, more research will need to be done before any conclusions or recommendations can be made.

It’s important to remember there’s no one “magic” food — there may be several, and several ways to eat them! Author and explorer Dan Buettner explains his research into demographics and longevity that led him to so-called “blue zones,” regions on Earth with the longest life expectancy, disability-free life expectancy, or concentration of persons over 100.

Read more atScience Daily.

Photo Credit: NOAH SEELAM / Stringer/ Getty


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