Chilli peppers may help you live longer

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  • Previous research shows that the capsaicin found in chilli peppers have many health benefits 
  • Researchers looked at previous studies based on the consumption of chillies
  • They found that people who eat chillies have a lower mortality rate than those who don't 

Chilli peppers contain a special chemical compound called capsaicin, which gives them their distinct spicy flavour.

Previous studies have found that capsaicin possesses anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer and blood regulating qualities.

How can chillies be good for our health?

In a more recent study, preliminary research by the American Heart Association suggests that the consumption of chilli peppers significantly reduces the risk of dying from heart disease or cancer.

The  researchers set out to analyse the effects of chilli peppers on cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. In order to assess this effect, researchers screened a total of 4 729 previous studies from five global health databases, namely Ovid, Cochrane, Medline, Embase and Scopus.

The number was then reduced to four large studies that included data on the health outcomes for participants relative to the consumption of chillies. The data of 570 000 individuals from China, the USA, Italy and Iran were included to compare the outcomes of those who consumed chillies and contrast their results with those who rarely or never did so.

Reduction in mortality 

When comparing the outcomes of the two groups, researchers found that people who eat chillies had “a 26% relative reduction in cardiovascular mortality; a 23% relative reduction in cancer mortality; and a 25% relative reduction in all-cause mortality”.

“We were surprised to find that in these previously published studies, regular consumption of chilli peppers was associated with an overall risk-reduction of all-cause, CVD and cancer mortality. It highlights that dietary factors may play an important role in overall health,” said Dr Bo Xu. Dr Xu is the senior author of the study and a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute.

Don't go overboard

Xu said that the exact mechanisms of how these results are achieved are still unknown, adding that it doesn't mean that everyone should start massively increasing their intake of chillies.

The researchers aim to continue their research to ascertain which types of chillies have the biggest health benefits and how much thereof and how often they should be consumed. 

READ | New device detects heat levels in chillies – so that you can avoid the burn

READ | Ease the pain with chilli peppers

READ | Advice for those who like their food spicy hot

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