The Public Library of Science journal PLoS One published findings Monday, Jan. 9, that reviewed data from more than 16,000 American adults who were followed for an average of 19 years. During that time period, researchers discovered an inverse relationship between eating the hot peppers and death. The mortality rate for participants who ate the peppers was 21.6 percent vs. 33.6 percent for adults who did not ingest the food.
Researchers believe chili peppers’ active component, capsaicin, may be responsible. Capsaicin can lead to the stimulation of cellular mechanisms that would prevent obesity and decrease diseases of the heart, lungs and those associated with stroke and diabetes. Capsaicin’s protective effect also could be linked to its nutrients like vitamin C, pro-A vitamin and B vitamins. Past studies conducted by other institutions have revealed other benefits capsaicin can provide, like preventing sickle cell-related health crises when used as an ingredient in Nicosan.
“Further studies should aim to investigate the benefits of other spices and differential effects of certain chili pepper subtypes,” the research said. “Such evidence may lead to new insights into the relationships between diet and health, updated dietary recommendations and the development of new therapies.”
Lu Qi, the lead author of the BMJ study and adjunct professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, told CBS News some people shouldn’t jump into consuming the fiery pepper, regardless of the reported benefits.
“For those who are affected by digestive disorders such as a stomach ulcer, I would be cautious about eating spicy foods,” Lu said.