If you like spicy food you might live longer, say researchers at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont. Their research found that eating hot red chili peppers was linked with a 13 percent lower risk in total mortality, primarily in deaths due to heart disease or stroke.
These new findings agree with those from a study conducted in China and published in 2015 that examined chili pepper consumption and its association with mortality.
Using National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) III data collected from more than 16,000 Americans who were followed for up to 23 years, the researchers examined the baseline characteristics of the participants according to hot red chili pepper consumption. They found that, compared to people who didn’t eat hot red chili peppers, those who did tended to be younger, male, white, Mexican-American, married, and to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and consume more vegetables and meats. They also had lower HDL (good) cholesterol, lower income, and less education.
Next, they examined data from a follow-up of 19 years to determine the number of deaths and specific causes of death. People who ate hot red chili peppers has a 13 percent lower risk of dying over the study period, primarily from heart disease or stroke.
Capsaicin may have protective effects
It’s possible that receptors called Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels, primary receptors for capsaicin – the component in chili peppers that gives them their heat – may in part be responsible for the protective effect of hot chili peppers.
Capsaicin is believed to play a role in cellular mechanisms that prevent obesity and modulate coronary blood flow. It also possesses antimicrobial properties that may offer health benefits by altering the gut microbiota.
Source: PLOS ONE, January 9, 2017.
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