Spicy food in the diet seems to contribute to longevity, a study of thousands of people in a Chinese registry finds.
Men who ate spicy food at least once a week were 10 percent less likely to die during the seven-year study period than were those with a more bland diet. Women had a mortality decrease of 12 to 22 percent during the study period with regular spicy food consumption, and eating it three or more times a week was associated with the biggest decrease.
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These observational data don’t establish that spicy foods reduces mortality. But the findings suggest that men who ate spicy food three or more times a week had fewer fatal respiratory diseases. For women, the strongest associations were seen in respiratory and cardiac diseases and infections.
The scientists speculate that capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers, might underlie the benefits, they write in the August 4 BMJ.
Editor’s note: This story was updated on August 5 to clarify the associations in women.