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Eating This Spicy Food Can Help You Live Longer, Doctors Say

Eating chili peppers may significantly reduce your risk of dying from cancer or cardiovascular disease.
crushed red pepper flakes

If you're a spicy food fan, you're in for some good news. Eating chili peppers may significantly reduce your risk of dying from cancer or cardiovascular disease, according to the preliminary results of international research.

Chili peppers contain capsaicin, a chemical compound which gives the fruits their spicy characteristic, according to the American Heart Association. Researchers previously discovered capsaicin's anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and blood-sugar regulating properties—but they wanted to dig a little deeper.

The new research was compiled by experts from institutions such as the CHI Saint Joseph Health, Cleveland Clinic, and the University of Missouri-Kansas School of Medicine. It draws from four large studies of nearly 600,000 people living in the U.S., Iran, Italy, and China. Compared to those who rarely or never eat chili peppers, those who regularly consume the fruit are 26% less likely to die of cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to the analysis. Eating spicy dishes with chili pepper may also reduce your risk of dying from cancer by 23% and all-cause mortality by 25%.

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"We were surprised to find that in these previously published studies, regular consumption of chili pepper was associated with an overall risk-reduction of all cause, CVD and cancer mortality," senior author and cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic's Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute Bo Xu, M.D, says. "It highlights that dietary factors may play an important role in overall health."

Because the amount and types of chili peppers consumed differed among the studies, it's hard to conclusively say which type of chili peppers may have health benefits, as well as how often they should be eaten in certain amounts. More research is needed to draw these conclusions, according to Dr. Xu.

Think you're truly eating clean? Watch out for the 9 "Healthy" Foods Dietitians Actually Hate.

Amanda McDonald
Amanda is a staff writer for Eat This, Not That!. Read more
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