Eating hot chili pepper can make you live longer, say experts at the University of Vermont. Findings of the new study show that consumption of hot red chili peppers is associated with a 13 percent reduction in total mortality, mainly in deaths due to heart disease or stroke.

Medical student Mustafa Chopan and Professor Benjamin Littenberg from Larner College of Medicine, University of Vermont conducted the study. They analyzed data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) III. This is a survey of more than 16,000 Americans with data collected over 23 years. They examined the baseline characteristics of the participants according to hot red chili pepper consumption.

People who consumed hot red chili peppers were more likely to be “younger, male, white, Mexican-American, married, to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and consume more vegetables and meats. They had lower HDL-cholesterol, lower income, and less education,” compared to those who did not. Analysis showed a significant decrease in mortality associated with hot red chili pepper consumption.

The study was published in the journal PLoS ONE.

How does eating chili pepper make you live long?

“The mechanism by which peppers could delay mortality is far from certain. Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels, which are primary receptors for pungent agents such as capsaicin (the principal component in chili peppers), may be partly responsible for the observed relationship,” state the experts.

They also cite possible explanations for this association. Capsaicin plays a role in cellular and molecular mechanisms that prevent obesity and modulate coronary blood flow. It also possesses antimicrobial properties that may indirectly affect the host, by altering the gut microbiota. Capsaicin is a major component in chili pepper. It produces a burning sensation when it comes in contact with a tissue.

“Because our study adds to the generalizability of previous findings, chili pepper or even spicy food consumption may become a dietary recommendation and/or fuel further research in the form of clinical trials,” adds Chopan.


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