Study Reveals An Unexpected Benefit For Spicy Food Lovers

Most spicy food lovers don't need to look at some scientific study to be convinced to pile on the hot sauce. Heck, many of us would keep amping up the heat even if we found out it had some pretty harmful consequences. So this recent scientific finding indicating that spicy food might actually be great for your health just comes as an added bonus: turns out, chili peppers may actually be able to make you live longer. 

According to research from the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, a virtual event series of 500 educational sessions geared towards cardiovascular professionals featuring keynote speakers as accomplished as Dr. Fauci (via American Heart Association, American Heart Association newsroom), "Individuals who consume chili pepper may live longer and may have a significantly reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer, according to preliminary research." 

Compared to people who rarely or never eat chili pepper, those who regularly eat chili pepper were found to have a 26% reduction in the relative risk of dying of heart disease, a 23% reduced risk of death from cancer, and a 25% reduced risk of deaths from any cause. 

Chili peppers could potentially strengthen your immune system

"The exact reasons and mechanisms that might explain our findings, though, are currently unknown," the study's senior author Bo Xu, M.D explains. "Therefore, it is impossible to conclusively say that eating more chili pepper can prolong life and reduce deaths, especially from cardiovascular factors or cancer. More research, especially evidence from randomized controlled studies, is needed to confirm these preliminary findings."

One possible reason for this effect is that chili peppers can strengthen your immune system. "Red chili peppers, including cayenne peppers, are an incredible source of vitamin A," nutritionist Tanya B. Freirich tells Health. "This is necessary for a strong immune system, and is also known to help with eye health."

Plus, they can also lower your levels of harmful cholesterol. Freirich explains, "Cayenne peppers are known to lower blood cholesterol and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, increase HDL cholesterol, and prevent clotting, which can all help prevent heart attack and stroke." 

Whether it's because it strengthens your immune system, lowers your "bad" cholesterol, or something else, all we know for sure is that chili peppers may lengthen your life. And hey, if pouring on the Tabasco may have health benefits, you don't need to tell us twice.