Could eating spicy foods help you live longer?

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.

Related story: The Real Cause of Heart Disease

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.

Related story: The Little-Known Vitamin Essential to Your Health

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,

Brad Hoppmann


Uncommon Wisdom Daily

Your thoughts on “Could eating spicy foods help you live longer?”

  1. Regardless, I was just impelled to eat some wasabi peas so I ingested a handful. Wow! They are spicy!

  2. Spicy foods can cause inflamation not reduce it. That’s why people with arthritis avoid spicy foods and night shade plant foods.

  3. I agree with Dave S. It could be that people who eat spicey food eat less fat and less red meat and have less cancer or heart disease for this reason – not the spices. It’s an interesting association but no causality is established and that is even before questions as to the validity of claims to the association are considered.

  4. If Dr. Lu Qi really concluded from his observational study (which DOES NOT demonstrate causality) “If you eat more spicy food, it’s better for your health and lowers the risk for mortality…”, Harvard should immediately fire him as he does not understand basic concepts of interpreting statistical data.

    “Associated impact”?? Really, Brad, you can’t have it both ways. “Impact” clearly denotes CAUSALITY. Causality was not shown. There was only an association. You and the good doc both seem to not be able to resist inflating the result beyond what the stats say. That’s bad science.

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