Spices in dishes help to live longer. Eating spicy food is associated with a reduced risk of early death, scientists have concluded. According to experts, this issue needs further study.
The study asked nearly 500000 people in China how often they eat spicy food. Participants were between 30 and 79 years old when the study began and were followed up for 7 years. During this time, 20000 subjects died.
As it turned out, people who ate spicy food one or two days a week were 10% less likely to die during the study compared to the rest. This result was published on August 4 in The BMJ magazine.
What’s more, people who ate spicy food three days a week or more were 14% less likely to die than those who ate spicy food less than once a week.
True, this was only an observation, and it is too early to say that there is a causal relationship between spicy food and low mortality. Study author Liu Qi, an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, says more data is needed among other populations.
Researchers have not yet figured out why spices are associated with low mortality. Previous studies in animal cells have suggested several possible mechanisms. For example, spicy foods have been shown to reduce inflammation, improve the breakdown of body fat, and alter the composition of gut bacteria.
Participants were also asked which spices they prefer—fresh chili peppers, dried chili peppers, chili sauce, or chili oil. Among people who ate spicy food once a week, most preferred fresh and dried peppers.
For now, scientists believe it needs to be established whether spices have the potential to improve health and reduce mortality, or if they are just a marker of other eating habits and lifestyles.