Next time you’re out to eat, don’t think twice about ordering something spicy — it might just save your life. A study from Harvard University published in 2015 in BMJ indicates people who make spicy foods a part of their daily diet have lower rates of mortality and are less likely to die from cancer, heart or respiratory diseases, Real Simple reports.
Researchers looked at data from a questionnaire from China Kadoorie Biobank, in which Chinese adults reported health information, including spicy food consumption and main source of chili intake (fresh, dried, sauce or oil). Excluding those with a history of health problems — cancer, stroke, heart disease — researchers checked back in with participants seven years later.
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When they checked back in, nearly 20,000 of the original 500,000 participants had passed away. While analyzing these death rates, sure enough, spicy foods were found to be a common factor in those still living. From their studies, Harvard concluded daily intake of spicy food can lower mortality rates by up to 14 percent.
Other studies have shown capsaicin, the main mouth-watering compound in chili peppers, has anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory properties, and may even reduce the risk of stomach tumors.