Scientists from Peking and Harvard Universities found that eating spicy food frequently is linked to lower death risks.
Capsaicinoids, which include the compound capsaicin, are the chemical components of peppers that create their spicy taste.
Research over the past couple of decades has demonstrated that capsaicinoids — and thus, spicy foods — also possess several health benefits.
In the study, the team aimed to examine the associations between the regular eating of spicy foods and death risks.
They examined people from 10 geographically diverse areas across China. The participants included 199,293 men and 288, 082 women aged 30 to 79 years without cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
These people reported their frequency of eating spicy foods.
The team found during 7 years of follow-up, a total of 11,820 men and 8404 women died.
Eating spicy food was strongly linked to lower death risks in both men and women.
Compared with those who ate spicy foods less than once a week, people who ate spicy food more frequently had lower death risks.
Compared with those who ate spicy foods less than once a week, those who consumed spicy foods 6 or 7 days a week showed a 14% lower risk of death risk.
Furthermore, the link between eating spicy food and lower death risks was stronger in people who did not drink alcohol than in those who did.
Strong links were also found for deaths due to cancer, heart diseases, and respiratory diseases.
Based on the findings, the team says habitual eating of spicy foods was linked to lower total and certain cause-specific death risks.
However, eating too many spicy foods may lead to some harmful effects on health.
Spicy foods may worsen acid reflux, IBS, peptic ulcers, and gastritis.
They may also cause digestive issues, including heartburn, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps if consumed in large amounts.
The research is published in The BMJ and was conducted by Dr. Lu Qi et al.
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