If you happen to enjoy the burn of a hot pepper as it blazes through your digestive system, there’s some good news. It’s increasingly clear that spice that positive effect on health and longevity — meaning that you’re no masochist for wanting the burn, you’re just being healthy.

Case in point: In a sample of 22,811 Italians who ate a variety of diets (some less healthy than others), those who ate chili peppers at least four times per week had 23 percent lower risks of death from any cause, and had 34 percent lower chances of death from cardiovascular disease.

The paper was published Monday the Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Spicy food and health around the world

Research into the potential protective effects of spicy peppers may not be limited to their use in Italian cooking: Studies in the United States and China have shown similar results. Each one points to a relationship between hot chilli pepper consumption and lower risks of death.

For example: A 2015 BMJ study conducted in China analyzed 487,375 people across 10 Chinese regions and found that those who reported eating spicy foods six or seven times per week had 14 percent lower risks of death than those who ate spicy food once per week.

That paper also noted that those who ate spicy food almost every day were more likely to have worse health habits in general, like smoking and alcohol habits, but the relationship between spicy food and lower risk of death was stronger in those that didn’t drink.

Thousands of miles away, and two years later, a study done on Americans showed similar results. That study, published in PLOS ONE analyzed data from 16,179 adults collected as part of the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES). There, the team found that Americans who ate “hot red chili peppers” had 13 percent lower risks of death compared to those who didn’t eat hot peppers.

The Italian study published Monday, the American study done in 2017 and the Chinese study from 2015 can’t show that spicy food is has protective effects for sure. But they do suggest that whatever benefits that chili peppers seem to impart are independent of culture and cuisine.

Article sourced from Inverse.

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