Researchers at Larner College of Medicine from the University of Vermont found that the consumption of red chili peppers causes a 13% reduction in all-cause mortality, primarily in deaths related to heart diseases or failure. The interesting study was published in PLoS ONE.
For centuries, spices and peppers have been associated with the treatment of illnesses and other therapeutic proprieties, but few studies have been conducted on health impacts. Only one other study has been published in 2015, in China.
The Larner College of Medicine study was a population study in which data was collected from more than 16,000 Americans over 23 years. Medical student Mustafa Chopan and Professor of Medicine Benjamin Littenberg, M.D., analyzed the baseline physical manifestations of the spice-eating participants, using National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) III data.
They found that spice consumers had lower HDL-cholesterol: “Although 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 in part be responsible for the observed relationship,” the study authors declared.
Chopan and Littenberg also stated in the study that capsaicin, the main active ingredient in chili peppers, is believed to aid cellular mechanisms against obesity and regulate coronary blood flow. The main ingredient also has antimicrobial characteristics which “may indirectly affect the host by altering the gut microbiota.”
“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,” says researcher Chopan.