Get a chili pepper with that Christmas dinner now! When 22,000 Italians tell you to eat spicy to enhance your health and longevity, you listen!
Capsaicin, Italians, and Science
A new paper published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reveals that eating hot chili peppers regularly increases longevity and lowers the risks of cardiovascular diseases.
The research gathered 22,811 Italian adults (who had more or less healthy diets) and tried to find the relationship between eating chili peppers and mortality risks. The results are exciting, although not that new. We will get to that in a moment.
Red Hot Chili Pepper a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
The results, as we said, are impressive:
- The consumption of four chili peppers a week leads to a 23% lower risks of death from any cause;
- The same amount of chili peppers also leads to a 34% lower risks of death from cardiovascular disease.
Other interesting facts revealed by this study include the fact that regular intake of capsaicin inversely associates with ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular death risk.
Researchers also found that not all peppers have equal effects on longevity. For instance, sweet peppers that have low levels of capsaicin paled in comparison to the hot peppers, which present high levels of the compound. In other words, eating ball peppers can have a protective effect of your heart, but those Carolina Reapers may save it (if the spiciness doesn’t kill you, of course).
But How Does the Capsaicin in Peppers Work?
Scientists still need to figure this one out. While there is no news that hot peppers do boost our health and longevity, it is still unclear how it does that. According to Marialaura Bonaccio, lead author of the study,
“None of the biological mechanisms tested were able to explain the health benefits associated with chilies.“
As Capsaicin Data Gathers, Scientists Need to Keep Up
Studying the protective and beneficial effects of capsaicin is not a new hobby among scientists. On the contrary, the Italian study aligns with American (2017) and Chinese (2015) research on the same topic.
While the Italian sample was comparatively smaller and took in account the Mediterranean diet, all three show the same thing: capsaicin has something to do with prolonged life and healthier hearts, but such data still dwells in the realm of folklore. Science still needs to learn the how and the why.
In the meanwhile, get that Carolina Reaper or whatever you like for your gourmet burns and go full ham on it! After the initial sensation that you die (or you wish you died then and there), it seems the capsaicin will help you live!
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