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Longer Living Through Spice: Collating the Health Benefits of Heat

Longer Living Through Spice: Collating the Health Benefits of Heat

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At the risk of becoming an all-chili-pepper, all-the-time newsletter, I’m bringing you more news this week from the capsaicin front. (Maybe it’s the wintery weather? I’m subconsciously seeking out all sources of heat…?)

A new study points to spicy pepper consumption as an overall mortality reducer, especially from cardiovascular or cancer-related causes. This study is the first-time chili’s blood-glucose-reducing, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties have been looked at in concert, amalgamating the results of nearly 5000 (!) previous studies to create a bigger picture.

“The health and dietary records of more than 570,000 individuals in the United States, Italy, China and Iran were used to compare the outcomes of those who consumed chili pepper to those who rarely or never ate chili pepper. Compared to individuals who rarely or never ate chili pepper, the analysis found that people who ate chili pepper had:  

  • a 26% relative reduction in cardiovascular mortality;
  • a 23% relative reduction in cancer mortality; and
  • a 25% relative reduction in all-cause mortality.”

These rates of reduction are stunning and immediately left me wanting to know more. But the study’s lead author, cardiologist Dr Bo Xu, says that this data is only a tantalizing taste (pun intended) of possible dietary influences of heart health and cancer prevention. In particular, future studies need to regularize exact amounts and type of chili peppers that net results, as well as other variables like study participant health info. Doing this will narrow down the “why” of chili’s effect on human health.

So, while the researchers work on their data and a final paper, I’ll kill the time by thinking about incorporating chili pepper into my diet more. While I still maintain I have nothing to prove in the spice-withstanding department, I’m happy to take a little heat for some potential health payoff. Maybe once my tolerance is up, the results will be in!