Lovers of Spicy Food Are More Likely to Live Longer, Study Concludes

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For all the lovers of spicy foods – here comes some good news. According to a recent study published in the medical journal BMJ, spicing up your food may help you prolong your life.

The study included around half a million people and those who ate spicy food, specifically chili peppers, had a longer life span than those who ate it more rarely or not at all.

The study collected data of 199,293 men and 288,082 women living in China, between the ages of 30 and 79, taking into consideration their health condition, level of physical activity, dietary habits and consumption of spicy food, as well as consumption of alcohol. The study was conducted between 2004 and 2008, to later be continued after a period of 7 years. At the time of the second take on the study, 4% of the people involved had passed away. The study found that those who ate spicy foods, particularly chili peppers, were at a 10% lower risk of dying and becoming ill than those who didn’t eat these foods as regularly. The risk was even lower for those who consumed chili peppers each day, or at least 3 times a week. Those respondents were 14 percent less likely to die, as the study reports.

The health benefits of eating spicy food have been known for a long time, and the results of this study confirm it.

Spices, especially chili pepper, are so healthy due to its contents. For instance, chili peppers contain capsaicin which has been proven to decrease high blood pressure problems, treat inflammation and help solve or prevent problems linked to obesity. It has also been suggested that capsaicin has the ability to prevent cancer, but those may only be speculations.


All the participants in the study were voluntarily involved, and at the beginning they answered questions about their eating habits, way of life and health history. They were also asked if they eat spicy foods, and if they do – how often. After re-launching the study after seven years, the scientists compared the respondents’ answers with the death records and attempted to find a link between the consumption of spices and the length of life, as well as the causes of death of those who passed away.

The researchers found that with the increased frequency of consuming spicy food, life expectancy was also increased, regardless of the participants’ age at the time of data collection.

However, not all causes of death could have been influenced by spicy food consumption, but those who consumed it more often (up to 7 times a week) were at a 29% lower risk of respiratory diseases, 22% less likely to die of ischemic disease, at an 8% lower risk of dying of cancer and 14% less likely to die due to any other medical condition. The researchers also found that women who ate spicy food more than three times a week were at a 45% lower risk of getting an infection and dying because of it.

The researchers didn’t find any link between regular consumption of spicy food and its effect on the development of diabetes or cerebrovascular disease.

According to the study, there is a difference between eating dried chili peppers and fresh chili peppers.

Namely, the researchers found that those who ate fresh chili peppers were more inclined to eat it frequently and were at a lower risk of dying of cancer and heart disease than those who ate it only in dried form. This may be because fresh peppers contain a higher amount of important nutrients such as capsaicin, potassium and vitamins C, A, K and B6.

Although this entire study is based on the health benefits of spicy foods and their ability to prevent illnesses and prolong our lives, one of the lead authors of the study and an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, Lu Qi stresses the importance of not eating too much of it, as too much of a good thing can be very bad. Qi explains that people who have sensitive stomachs or a digestive disorder should eat chili peppers cautiously as they can trigger their medical problems.

This study is based on making correlations and not on evidence, and it can only conclude and not prove that consumption of chili peppers is actually so beneficial.

Nevertheless, due to their rich nutrient contents, a healthy person should be able to eat them daily without any complications and with a possibility of improving their health. These are very good news for those who enjoy adding some chili pepper into their meals once in a while as, besides the pleasure brought by the taste, it can bring many health benefits.