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

Publisher

Uncommon Wisdom Daily

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

  1. As an American living in China I can attest to the “cleaning out of the intestinal tract and colon from eating spicy foods here. I can only speak from experience and common sense, not a scientific study, but the spicy foods only take a short time to clean the pipes out and that can only be a good thing by getting rid of vile bile

  2. I can relate easily with the theory of the curative or preventive nature of hot peppers and spicy foods as a very good friend is alive today due to hot peppers and hot pepper sauces being a regular part of his daily diet. At least, that is the belief of his family and friends and, as far as a doctor being willing to agree to this kind of explanation, that of the doctor who operated on him for squamous cell carcinoma.

    His first doctor gave him antibiotics for four months for a golf ball size lump in his throat. When he finally went for a second opinion, that doctor performed a biopsy within 5 minutes of examining him and operated two days later. She removed a dozen lymph nodes, one tonsil and part of his tongue. This was followed by 50 radiation treatments.

    To the doctor’s total dismay and astonishment, only the first node tested positive for cancer despite the months long delay in getting proper treatment. The doctor told him that for as long as he had been dealing with the lump in his throat, the cancer should realistically have spread through to all the other nodes as well as to his lungs and blood, leaving him to be counting his days.

    After the diagnosis and prior to the surgery, we had been hoping for a miracle but preparing for the very real possibility of a tragic loss of life. His doctor could offer us no medical explanation whatsoever about the negative testing results of the other lymph nodes and could only speculate as we did about the effects of the hot and spicy nature of his diet.

    This is a man who, for several years, made and distributed his own brand of habanero pepper sauces around this same time as his illness (about 15 years ago) and grew up in a family that grew their own jalapeño peppers from when he was a child. There have been many other varieties of hot peppers he has also made a steady part of his diet over the 30 years I have known him. He even grew habanero peppers for many years on his sailboat he named “Hot Idea.”

    His family and I, to this day, firmly believe that his love of hot peppers and hot pepper sauces is the reason he survived the surgery and is alive and well today. And still consuming more than his fair share of the hot and spicy stuff.

  3. CERTIANLY VITAMIN C HAS BEEN SHOWN IN MY EXPIERENCE TREATING OVER 10,000 PATIENTS TO SERVE AS AN EFFECTIVE PREVENTATIVE TREATMENT FOR RESPIRATORY DISEASES. TWO GRAMS EACH DAY IS WHAT I RECCOMEND AND TAKE MYSELF. I HAVE NOT HAD A URI IN MEMORY AND TWO SERIAL COLONOSCOPIES HAVE BEEN CLEAN AS A WHISLE . OVER THE LAST DECADE. I’M 65, PRIME AGE FOR COLON CANCER. VITAMIN C IS CHEAP AND AN EASY WAY TO PREVENT DISEASE.
    RE SPICY FOODS, ALTHOUGH I ENJOY CHILE RELANOS, MY MAIN SPICY FOOD IS SALSA, USUALLY APPLIED TO RICE AND BEANS. A STUDY COMPARING CANCER INCIDENCE IN MEXICO AND CANADA WOULD BE USEFUL, ALTHOUGH THERE MAY BE GENETIC DIFFERENCES BETWEEN EUROPEAN DERIVED CANADIANS AND MEXICANS WHO FREQUENTLY HAVE NATIVE AMERICAN ANCESTORS, IE AZECS, MAYANS, ETC.
    FOR MYSELF, OF CZECH AND SWEDISH ANCESTRY, I WILL CONTINUE MY VITAMIN C AND SALSA.
    SINCERELY, FRED D HARUDA, MD

  4. Thank you brother Brad for this post of great wisdom in regards to putting a damper on inflamed tissue that is causing so much suffering in the world today.
    I myself can testify to this research from my friend who is of Spanish decent who introduced to me the joy of consuming a meal of fresh hot green chili peppers from his garden to destroy any bad bacteria that was floating around in his body. And afterwords experienced a rush of new energy that made his face shine as the sun without a blemish of imperfection. 🙂

  5. Good work! Quite revealing. I will try to increase my consumption of spicy foods, hoping to reap the benefit of longevity.

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