Research: Hot Peppers Make You Live Longer

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Hot Peppers and Spicy Food May Increase Longevity.  

Red peppers

Red hot peppers on the table

Spicy, hot foods are adored by many.  Although this has nothing to do with weight loss, it clearly indicated a positive benefit for eating spicy foods.  I have published another article on the benefits of hot peppers in weight loss.  Recent research has suggested that eating fiery ingredients such as chili peppers may do more than burn your mouth and tongue.  Spicy foods may help you live longer.

 I am a big fan of spicy foods.  In college, we would wait until 10 cent wing night and order 5-10 dollars worth and eat them for days.  Forget the buffalo wings, because they are tough to make healthy, but in general spicy foods are good for your diet and health, but I would not necessarily lump these fried, salty goodies into the healthy category and the studies looked at chile peppers, not fried buffalo wings.    

For 1,000s of years, healers have recommended spices and herbs for the treatment of various illnesses and diseases.  It is not surprising that some of their treatments might be helpful.  Many of these plant materials are high in antioxidants and bioactive compounds that could result in less inflammation or free radicals.  Obviously, these compounds could have positive effects on your health.

So what research do I have to back this up? First, I already wrote about the weight loss benefits, and you can read that post.  I am extremely confident that spicy foods help prevent weight gain.  I am equally confident that they make you healthier and may even extend your life, but is there any research to support this?  

Research on Spicy Foods and Longevity:

Assorted Hot Chili Peppers

  Assorted Hot Chili Peppers

Hot peppers reduce mortality.  This statement does not mean that you will be immortal.  All cause mortality reduction means that if you compare two groups, the group eating hot peppers has fewer fatalities than the other group.  Recent research from Larner College of Medicine in Vermont found a 13% reduction in mortality in a large prospective study[1].  The study looked at a population of 16,179 participants.  It is important to note that this was primarily attributed to a reduction in heart disease and stroke deaths, but causality cannot be attributed.   

The bottom line:  Should you increase your hot pepper consumption?   More research is needed.  This study illustrates a need for more information from further studies.  The evidence from this study does not indicate causality.  For example, fewer people who drive a certain brand of car die in car accidents than another.  Although it this may be true, it may not be the result fo a better or safe car, it may be due to the car having a slower top speed or there being fewer cars of that type or brand on the road. If you already eat hot peppers or like to eat them, this study is promising and I would recommend that you continue to eat them.  

Footnotes
[1]Chopan and Littenberg, “The Association of Hot Red Chili Pepper Consumption and Mortality: A Large Population-Based Cohort Study.”
Chopan, Mustafa, and Benjamin Littenberg. “The Association of Hot Red Chili Pepper Consumption and Mortality: A Large Population-Based Cohort Study.” Edited by Oreste Gualillo. PLOS ONE. Public Library of Science (PLoS), January 9, 2017. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169876
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About the Author

ChuckH
I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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