Good news for those who like to spice up their meal with a dab of sambal oelek or a pinch of chili pepper, because spicy food not only influences our taste buds, but it also helps us live a little longer.
A large-scale Chinese health research shows that eating spicy food is correlated to a longer life. The research involved the intensive studying of the feeding pattern of about 485,000 Asians for seven years. In that period, 20,224 of the test persons died.
After all other relevant factors - such as the medical prehistory, age, education, smoking habits and the prevention of diseases such as diabetes in the test persons - had been taken into account, the scientists discovered that frequently consuming spicy food had a positive effect on the general longevity.
Those who put spicy ingredients in their meals once or twice a week (especially chili peppers), apparently have 10 per cent less chance of dying. Those who eat spicy food five to six times a week, could even reduce that risk by fourteen per cent.
The study also shows that cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases and various forms of cancer were less prevalent in those who love spicy food. The researchers did not give an explicit explanation for the curious relation between both, but did remark that 'capsaïcin' - the main component of chili peppers - have an anti-oxidizing and anti-inflammatory effect.
"In order to provide our results with a more scientific basis, further research has to be done", states Dr. Lu Qi, co-author of the study and researcher of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. That further evidence will have to be gained based on large-scale clinical experiments in a diverse population. "We are also looking forward to acquiring the results of studies among other populations."