Crank up the cayenne on your meals, because new research suggests people who eat spicy foods live longer.
A Chinese study analyzed dietary information from more than 485,000 people, followed for an average of seven years, and found that people who ate hot foods, mainly chili peppers, once or twice a week had a 10 percent reduced overall risk for death. The more often people spiced up their food, the greater the effect. Subjects who ate spicy food six to seven times a week reduced their risk by 14 percent.
Rates of ischemic heart disease, respiratory diseases and cancers were all lower among people who popped peppers. The authors drew no conclusions about cause and effect, but they noted that capsaicin, the main ingredient in chili peppers, had been found in other studies to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
"The beneficial roles of capsaicin have been extensively reported in relation to anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-hypertensive effects," the authors wrote. They also noted that spices have been shown to have an anti-microbial function that may affect the bacteria that live in your gut in such a way that it helps increase longevity, noted the Washington Post in an article about the study.
In another study, people who ate a daily handful of nuts were 20 percent less likely to die from any cause over a 30-year period. That research, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, was conducted by scientists from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the Harvard School of Public Health. Bring on the spicy nut mix!