The research participants consisted of 487,375 people aged between 30 and 79, who completed an evaluation about their health and consumption of spicy foods, red meat, vegetables and alcohol. The participants were followed up for 7.2 years to assess whether whether the baseline questionnaire results accurately reflected spicy food consumption over time. A total of 20,224 deaths were recorded during the follow-up period, with a 14% reduced risk of death during follow-up with participants who reported eating spicy foods 3-7 days a week.
The researchers specified that capsaicin was the ingredient responsible for the positive health benefit and are a good source of dietary antioxidants, preventing free radical attack. The most commonly used spices for participants who ate spicy foods weekly were fresh and dried chili peppers. Participants who regularly ate fresh chili had a reduced risk of death from cancer, ischemic heart disease and diabetes.
Consumption of spicy foods and total and cause specific mortality: population based cohort study, Jun Lv et al., The BMJ, doi: 10.1136/bmj.h3942, published online 4 August 2015.
Consumption of hot spicy foods and mortality – is chilli good for your health?, Nita G. Forouhi, The BMJ, doi: 10.1136/bmj.h4141, published online 4 August 2015, extract.