Good news, Sriracha sauce lovers: eating spicy foods is associated with a reduced risk for death, according to an analysis of dietary data on more than 485,000 people.
Enrolled in a large Chinese health study between 2004-2008, participants were followed for an average of seven years. During the study, they recorded 20,244 deaths.
With multiple factors such as family medical history, age, education, diabetes, and smoking considered, researchers found having some spice once or twice a week resulted in a 10 percent reduced overall risk for death. Bump that up spicy food count to once every day, and the number jumps to 14 percent.
Besides improving your overall health, spicy food counters ischemic heart disease, respiratory diseases and cancers specifically. While researchers are still unsure about the cause and effect, they noted that capsaicin, the main ingredient in chili peppers, had been found in other studies to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
“We need more evidence, especially from clinical trials, to further verify these findings,” Dr. Lu Qi, an associate professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“We are looking forward to seeing data from other populations.”