A new study has shown that consuming spicy foods, specially when abstaining from alcohol, is associated with a lower risk of death. The results are not conclusive though; the real cause for this apparent link is not known. The findings have been published in The BMJ.
Spicy foods might actually have a positive effect on one’s life span. The answer to a longer life enclosed inside a chilli? Who would have known?!
The study entailed around half a million adults sampled from 10 regions in China. They were enrolled between 2004 and 2008 and followed-up for 7 years. The participants responded to a questionnaire pertaining to spicy food consumption. They were asked as to how often they had fresh chilli pepper, or chilli sauce, together with similar questions.
The researchers found that people who had spicy foods once or twice per week had a 10 % lower risk of death than those who ate the foods less than once a week. Those who consumed the foods almost daily had a 14 % lower mortality risk. The link seemed to be stronger in those people who stayed away from alcohol.
However, it is as yet unclear as to the real cause of this link: is it the spicy food in itself that protects from death, or is it some unknown factor that is responsible for the effects seen by the researchers? More study needs to be done to put the issue into perspective.
Furthermore, the study was done only on Chinese people, and cannot be generalised. Also, what further complicates the matter of providing a simplistic answer is the fact that spices are rarely used in isolation; therefore, it is not possible to single out chillies, though it might be playing a role.