Chili peppers are essential to many Latin American cuisines for their flavor-enhancing attributes, and now studies confirm it’s also literally giving you life, as in extending your life span. Earlier this week, the American Heart Association released a statement detailing the preliminary results from a recent study where they found that the consumption of chili pepper may reduce the relative risk of cardiovascular disease mortality by 26%. They also found that consumption was tied to a 25% reduction in death from any cause and 23% fewer cancer deaths, compared to people who never or rarely consume chili pepper.
The health and dietary records of more than 570,000 individuals in the United States, Italy, China, and Iran were used to compare the outcomes of those who consumed chili pepper to those who rarely or never ate it. Previous studies found that eating chili pepper has an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, and blood-glucose regulating effect thanks to capsaicin, the chemical that gives chili pepper its characteristic heat.
The study has its limitations including the fact that the amount and type of chili pepper varied among the studies so it’s difficult to conclude exactly how much and which kind of chili is most beneficial. Even so, next time you’re enjoying ceviche with aji amarillo, tacos with jalapeños, or chile de árbol salsa and you feel that heat hit your mouth, remember that’s the chili working to try and help you live longer.
Not into spicy foods but still want the reap the benefits of eating chilis? Try milder options like cherry, Cascabel, Anaheim, or poblano (or ancho chili if dried) peppers as well as paprika.