The Intriguing Link Between Spicy Food and a Longer Life

TIME

People who love chili peppers might be eating their way to a longer life, according to a new study published in The BMJ.

“We know something about the beneficial effects of spicy foods basically from animal studies and very small-sized human studies,” says study author Lu Qi, associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. Some of those preliminary studies have found that spicy food and their active components—like capsaicin, the compound found in chili peppers—might lower inflammation, improve metabolic status and have a positive effect on gut bacteria and weight, he says.

But human evidence remains scant. So Qi and a team of researchers looked at questionnaire data from about half a million adults all across China who participated in the China Kadoorie Biobank study between 2004-2008. Each person in the study reported their health status, alcohol consumption, spicy food consumption, main source of chili intake (fresh…

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