Spicy food ‘might help us to live longer’

    7 August 2015

    There is new evidence which suggests that eating spicy food is linked with longevity.

    Spice’s active ingredient, capsaicin, has anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammation and anticancer properties.

    Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences studied biobank data from almost half a million participants, aged 30 to 79 years. The participants also completed a questionnaire about their health and consumption of spicy foods. The study controlled for external factors.

    After seven years, there were over 20,000 deaths. Those who consumed the most spicy food had a 14 per cent reduced risk of death. The association was more pronounced in those who didn’t consume alcohol.

    Chilli peppers were the most common spices reported (and chilli is richer in capsaicin than most spices).

    The researchers urge caution before linking spice combination with a lower risk of death. This was an observational study, which doesn’t establish the cause and effect. In an editorial accompanying the research, Nita Forouhi, from the University of Cambridge, calls for more research to test the association.

    There is no scientific consensus on how spices affect our health. For example, researchers at the Human Performance Lab at Appalachian State University studied red pepper and turmeric consumption in patients with chronic inflammation and obesity.

    They believed that inflammation in overweight people could be caused by oxidative stress. But the results of the study were negative. There was no evidence found to suggest that the spices affected inflammation.