Spicy foods — you may love them or you may hate them, but now there’s a reason to eat them regardless.
A new Harvard University study found that eating spicy foods may lower your risk for premature death.
Researchers found that adults who reported eating spicy foods — such as fresh and dried chili pepper — as little as three days per week were less likely to die during the study period than those who consumed such foods less than once a week.
“The finding is very simple,” said study lead author Dr. Lu Qi, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. “If you eat more spicy food, it’s better for your health and lowers the risk for mortality, especially as it relates to cancer and heart disease.”
Between 2004 and 2008, the study authors conducted dietary and health history surveys among roughly 199,000 men and 288,000 women from 10 different regions in China. The participants were between the ages of 30 and 79.
People with a prior history of cancer, heart disease or stroke were excluded from the study.
The median study follow-up was seven years. During that time, more than 20,000 participants died.
The key finding in the study was that eating fresh, spicy foods as little as once or twice a week was associated with a 10% drop in the overall risk for death during the study, compared with eating such foods less than once weekly.
Eating spicy foods between three and seven days per week appeared to lower mortality by as much as 14%, the authors reported.
Fresh chili peppers were specifically linked to a lower risk of dying as a result of cancer, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
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Now, the researches in this study were not able to draw a direct cause-and-effect link between the consumption of spicy foods and lower mortality. They could only find an association between these factors.
But, Dr. Qi noted that the study’s purpose was simply to identify the associated impact of spicy diets — not to decode exactly how spices might offer protection against illness and death.
So why might a diet that incorporates spicy foods be beneficial to your health and longevity?
Spices are high in antioxidants, which could protect you from cancer and heart disease.
Specifically, the capsaicin in peppers is known to help fight inflammation, which if not kept in check can lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Capsaicin offers a plethora of other benefits including …
- Cancer-fighting properties
- Pain relief
- Prevention of sinus infections and congestion relief
- Soothing of intestinal diseases
- Fat-burning effects
- Heart protection
Peppers are also a good source of vitamin C, a known potential cancer-fighting agent.
Vitamin C is needed for collagen and connective tissue formation. It’s used to manufacture glutathione, the most-powerful antioxidant in the body. Vitamin C can enhance immune function and help quench free radical damage.
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So you can see how each of these benefits of spicy foods may contribute to a healthy you, leading to increased vitality and perhaps even increased longevity.
Try adding in spicy foods to your weekly meal regime and see if you can reap the benefits they offer.
Happy and healthy investing,
Uncommon Wisdom Daily