CLEVELAND, OHIO — If you like your food on the spicy side, you’re in luck.
A recent Cleveland Clinic study found people who eat chili peppers may live longer.
The research looked at the diets of more than 500,000 people from around the world.
“Subjects who regularly consumed chili pepper, particularly the hot chili pepper, had a lower risk, relative risk, of dying from all causes, as well as dying from heart and vascular- related causes, as well as cancer-related deaths,” said Bo Xu, MD, cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic and lead author of the study.
He suspects the health benefits come from the main compound found in chili peppers, capsaicin.
Capsaicin gives chili peppers their distinct taste and smell, It also has an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effect on the body, and helps regulate blood-glucose levels.
It’s not clear from the study how much chili pepper you would have to consume, or how often.
“If you’re someone who likes spicy food, hopefully this gives you confirmation. If you’re someone who never tried spicy food, I think, at least hopefully, this study will serve as an incentive for you to give it a go,” said Dr. Xu.
More research is still needed on the health benefits of the chili pepper.
In the meantime, Dr. Xu encourages his patients to focus on eating a heart healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.