Here’s yet another reason to embrace spice.
People who eat spicy food six to seven days a week tend to live longer compared to those who eat the hot stuff less than once a week, according to a study led by Peking University Health Science Center and published in The British Medical Journal. The study, which tracked 487,375 healthy people, found that people who chowed down on fiery fare had a 14 percent lower mortality rate over a median 7.2 years.
But while we're all about fiery foods, it's worth pointing out that the study didn't say that spicy food causes longevity — just that it's correlated.
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"Future research is needed to establish whether spicy food consumption has the potential to improve health and reduce mortality directly or if it is merely a marker of other dietary and lifestyle factors," writes Nita Forouhi, Ph.D, in an accompanying editorial. Forouhi suggests spicy food may help motivate people to drink more water—and that's almost always a big plus. She also notes the spicy-longevity connection was stronger in individuals who avoided alcohol, which might imply that people who consumed spicy food and tended to live longer also led a healthy lifestyle.
But spicy food may have some intrinsic benefits as well. The chemical capsaicin—the main active component in chili peppers—can have anti-obesity, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-hypertension effects.
Spicy dishes and ingredients exist in many cultures and have become more and more accessible. The usual hot sauces, like Sriracha and Tabasco, are downright awesome, but it doesn’t hurt to break out of your comfort zone. Set your palate aflame with these fiery options from around the world.