Hot Peppers May Lengthen Life

Many studies have shown the benefits of chili peppers. Hot peppers can aid in weight loss. And, they may be able to help heart health.

A new study has not only supported that second claim, but it has also strengthened hot pepper’s position as a health food. Our team doesn’t speak about superfoods. No single food will fix your health problems, and we don’t believe in fad diets or banking on one ingredient’s ability to change your life. But, we do love exploring food science, and we like learning more about what healthy foods we can include in our diet to help work toward our goals!

This new research found that regular chili eaters appeared to have a “significantly reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer.” Peppers are a great source of capsaicin. That’s what gives them a hot flavor. Capsaicin helps regulate blood sugar, lower inflammation, and be an antioxidant with anti-cancer properties.

The research looked at the diet and health records of more than 570,000 people from China, Iran, Italy and the U.S. That gave the researchers an incredibly wide They compared the health outcomes of people who regularly ate chilies to those who rarely or never did. They found that people who ate peppers were 26 percent less likely to die from a heart problem. They were 23 percent less likely to die from cancer. And they were 25 percent less likely to die young overall.

We were surprised to find that… regular consumption of chili pepper was associated with an overall risk-reduction of all-cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality,” said Dr. Bo Xu, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute. “It highlights that dietary factors may play an important role in overall health.”

The researchers didn’t look at why the peppers were having the impact. Dr. Xu said, “It’s probably related to the capsaicin.” They weren’t looking for the cause; they just wanted to see if there was a clear link.

With that link now seen more clearly, Dr. DeLisa Fairweather of Mayo Clinic said, “There really could be important benefits that you could have from eating hot chili peppers, especially in their ability to reduce some of these immune cell responses that are driving atherosclerosis and heart attacks.”

The research didn’t show what kind of chilies people ate, and it didn’t give an amount that people were eating. A more controlled study would be needed to get information about how much and what kind could make a large impact. But we think it’s great news! We’re always talking about trying new things and making sure you have a lot of variety in your diet. Studies like this can remind you about foods you don’t eat regularly. Maybe it’s time to work in more chilies!

If you already eat chili peppers and you like them, this encourages that,” said Dr. Xu. “We’re not going so far as to give recommendations yet, but I think this at least perhaps provides incentives or encouragement for people to give chili peppers a go.”
November 13, 2020

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