An Easy Way to Reduce Your Risk Dying from Heart Disease or Stroke
Do you eat spicy, hot food? If so, it might extend your life, according to researchers at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont. Their research found that consumption of hot red chili peppers is associated with a 13 percent reduction in total mortality – primarily in deaths due to heart disease or stroke – in a large prospective study.
The study was published recently in PLoS ONE.
Going back for centuries, peppers and spices have been thought to be beneficial in the treatment of diseases, but only one other study – conducted in China and published in 2015 – has previously examined chili pepper consumption and its association with mortality. This new study corroborates the earlier study’s findings.
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, medical student Mustafa Chopan ’17 and Professor of Medicine Benjamin Littenberg, M.D., examined the baseline characteristics of the participants according to hot red chili pepper consumption. They found that consumers of hot red chili peppers tended to be “younger, male, white, Mexican-American, married, and to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and consume more vegetables and meats . . . had lower HDL-cholesterol, lower income, and less education,” in comparison to participants who did not consume red chili peppers. They examined data from a median follow-up of 18.9 years and observed the number of deaths and then analyzed specific causes of death.
There are some possible explanations for red chili peppers’ health benefits, state Chopan and Littenberg in the study. Among them are the fact that capsaicin is believed to play a role in cellular and molecular mechanisms that prevent obesity and modulate coronary blood flow, and also possesses antimicrobial properties that “may indirectly affect the host by altering the intestinal tract bacteria.
Mustafa Chopan, Benjamin Littenberg. The Association of Hot Red Chili Pepper Consumption and Mortality: A Large Population-Based Cohort Study. PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (1): e0169876 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169876