Fan of spicy food? Your love of chilli might help you live longer
New Italian research has found that people who eat chilli peppers on a regular basis appear to have a lower risk of death than those who avoid the spicy ingredient.
Led by researchers from the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention of I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed in Pozzilli, Italy, the new study set out to investigate whether chilli peppers, which are a common ingredient in Italian cuisine and the Mediterranean diet, may be linked with a lower risk of death in those who consume them regularly.
For the study the team looked at 22,811 adults living in the Molise region of Italy who were participating in the Moli-sani Study.
The participants' chilli pepper intake was measured using a Food Frequency Questionnaire and categorised as none/rare consumption, up to two times per week, three or four times per week, and more than four times a week. They were then followed for an average of eight years.
The findings, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, showed that participants who ate chilli peppers four times a week or more had a 40% lower risk of dying of a heart attack compared to those who never or rarely ate them. In addition, the risk of dying from a stroke was more than halved.
Someone can follow the healthy Mediterranean diet, someone else can eat less healthily, but for all of them chilli pepper has a protective effectResearcher Marialaura Bonaccio
“An interesting fact,” added Marialaura Bonaccio, one of the researchers, “is that protection from mortality risk was independent of the type of diet people followed. In other words, someone can follow the healthy Mediterranean diet, someone else can eat less healthily, but for all of them chilli pepper has a protective effect.”
The study is the first to investigate whether eating chilli peppers could be linked to a lower risk of death in a European and Mediterranean population, though chilli peppers have already been linked to a lower risk of death in Chinese and American populations.