Hands up if you love spicy food? We’ve got some good news for you. Eating chili may make you live longer. According to research published in PLOS One, people who ate hot peppers had a 13 percent reduced risk of dying early.
The new chili study considered data from 16,179 American adults participating in a larger public health study over 23 years. During this time there were 4,946 deaths, and after controlling for factors like age, sex, smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes, they discovered that the peppers-lovers had a significantly reduced risk of an early death.
There’s no real information about how much chili the people studied ate and the study doesn’t prove a causal link between peppers and a longer lifespan. But, the authors do write that capsaicin, which is the component that brings that spicy flavor to chili, actually has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties which could possibly prevent diseases. Hence, the longer life span observed in the research.
In saying that, co-author of the study, Benjamin Littenberg, a professor of medicine at the University of Vermont, said the evidence that chilis lead to longer life “isn’t strong enough to make me change my diet.” Instead, he gives this advice: “Don’t smoke, limit calories, don’t drink to excess, get a flu shot every year—those are things we have very convincing evidence will help you live longer. I don’t know how much chili pepper to tell you to eat.”
Still, the research does support results from a 2015 study of spicy food that was conducted in China which found that people who eat spicy food weekly reduce their risk of an early death by 10 percent. Consuming spicy food six to seven times a week reduced the risk by 14 percent. Pass the hot sauce, please.