Spicy food may help you live longer

Like spicy food? If so, you might live longer, say researchers at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, who found that consumption of hot red chili peppers is associated with a reduction in total mortality.

The researchers used the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) III to collect data from over 16,000 Americans who were followed for up to 23 years.

In general, they found that the most frequent consumers of hot 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,” when compared to those who didn’t eat hot red chili peppers.

The study found a 13 percent reduction in total mortality, especially in heart attacks and strokes, in people who consumed hot red chili peppers on a regular basis

Although the mechanism by which peppers could delay mortality is far from certain, researchers said possible causes of the health benefits of red chili peppers relates to the principal component capsaicin, which is known to prevent obesity, regulate coronary blood flow, and possesses antimicrobial properties.

A previous study at the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine, also found that capsaicin activated a pain receptor called TRPV1 in mice, which reduced tumor development in their gut. TRPV1 was first discovered in sensory neurons, the researchers say, where it protects the cells against potential damage from heat, acidity and spicy chemicals in the environment.