Does Eating Spicy Food Help You Live Longer?

chiliA number of scientific studies have been conducted around spicy foods and the impact they have on our health. Although we don’t quite know why, there is strong evidence to suggest that eating spicy foods frequently does help you live longer.

The University of Harvard’s associate professor, Dr Lu Qi, has released a paper based on studies conducted from 2004 to 2008, on the effects of regular consumption of spicy foods on our longevity and overall health. The Study was carried out on more than 487000 people between the ages of 30 and 79 years.

Although they didn’t find out exactly why spicy foods help you to live longer they did find a definite link between eating spicy foods and longevity.

Both men and women who consumed spicy foods three or more times a week were found to have a 14% lower mortality rate during the course of the survey than those who ate spicy foods less than once a week.

These people with high-spice diets, especially those who ate a lot of chilli peppers, also had far fewer instances of dying from heart diseases, type-two diabetes or cancer.

How do spicy foods help us live longer?

Now the research was conducted to find out whether spicy food had an effect on health and longer life. Unfortunately the mechanics of how it works have not yet been researched. Qi does have some ideas though on why spicy foods are good for you.

Spicy foods such as chillies and curries contain capsaicin, a nitrogen-containing lipid which is the main chemical component in the “hot” flavour. Capsaicin helps to lower your cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation in the body, maintain the levels of healthy bacteria in your intestines and even acts as a powerful anti-oxidant! It’s no wonder it’s good for you!

As we know chronic inflammation alone is one of the major causes of cancer, so it’s not surprising that reducing inflammation in the body would reduce your risk of getting cancer.

In association with Dr Lu Qi’s findings, clinical dietician Lona Sandon of the University of Texas South Western Medical Centre, stated that it is well known that spices are full of cancer and heart disease reducing antioxidants.

Chilies are not the only spices that boost your health

Lona Sandon points out that it is not only chillies that are known for their benefits to your health.

Spices such as garlic, curry and peppers have long been used in traditional eastern medicine for the treatment of ailments like high cholesterol, inflammation, high blood pressure and for caner –prevention. Even old-fashioned western medicine will recommend Cayenne pepper for a sore throat or cough.

Unfortunately no conclusive studies have ever been done to prove or explain these benefits, even if they have been observed frequently.

Eating spicy food stops you from feeling pain

Regularly eating capsaicin (the burn taste in most spices) blocks certain pain receptors in the brain reducing your ability to feel pain.

A study by researcher Andrew Dillin of the University of California found that blocking the pain receptors in the brains of mice made them live 14% longer and improved their health.

Animals who’s pain receptors were blocked developed less instances of cancer, suffered less memory loss and were able to process sugar better, reducing the risk of type-two diabetes. They also aged less quickly, showing signs of health and good condition much longer than those who hadn’t had their pain receptors blocked.

Dillin believes that pain might accelerate the aging process in humans, and reducing pain by eating compounds that affect the brain’s pain receptors might actually keep us younger and healthier for longer.

Spicy foods boosts your metabolism

If the health benefits above are not enough to get you eating spicy food then maybe this will: Eating spicy food makes it easier to lose weight!

Researcher Dillin also found that chillies (and other warming spices like black pepper and ginger) act as a thermogenic which means they boost your metabolism and increase your ability to burn calories.

This is a dream come true for dieters everywhere! What’s more is that because it helps your body to regulate sugar and reduces your chances of developing type-two diabetes, it also helps to keep the insulin-related belly fat from developing in the first place.

Other spicy foods you should be eating

Other spicy foods that have great benefits for your health include:

Black pepper – known for aiding digestion and promoting intestinal health. Black pepper contains the essential mineral maganese and is a thermogenic.

Ginger – Also a thermogenic. Ginger is known for its digestive soothing abilities. Ginger is used to calm upset stomachs and nausea and is safe to be used even by pregnant women with morning sickness. Ginger is also an anti-inflammatory and like chilli has some pain-blocking properties.

Mustard – High in selenium, magnesium, vitamins A, C and K mustard has a whole range of health benefits. Mustard is anti-inflammatory and rich in anti-oxidants which make it helpful in slowing the progress of cancer. It also helps to control symptoms of asthma. Mustard is also a thermogenic making it yet another warm spice which helps to burn calories.

Don’t forget to add to your grocery shopping list: Fresh chillies, chilli powder, peppers, mustard, black pepper and fresh and ground ginger.

With spicy food promising to your improve your health, help control your weight and increase your longevity, it’s time to re-work the weekly menu and spice up your life!

The problem is not everyone can eat spicy food without any issues.

If you have digestive issues like acid reflux, heartburn, or weak stomach, spicy foods can aggravate your condition.

You want to heal your digestive system first. To do so, you can follow these 3 digestive tips –




About the Author:

Emma Deangela is the best selling author of The Alkaline Diet Program and 80/20 Fat Loss. She has helped over tens of thousands of men and women to lose weight and transform their health with sound nutrition advice.

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5 responses to “Does Eating Spicy Food Help You Live Longer?”

  1. Kiran Thakur Avatar
    Kiran Thakur

    Hi Emma, I have been reading your articles with a lot of interest because your articles emphasize more on the cause of the malady/disease than the symptoms. I was wondering if you are familiar with the cranberry fruit which is very popular in USA especially for UTI related symptoms . Do you know what is the Indian version of cranberry ? I would like to ask your perspective on using cranberry added to boiling water on daily basis instead of tea, Thank you, with kind regards

  2. Katerina Avatar

    It is not good spice for me because my mom and father used spice and both past way from cancer .For me only ginger is good I can eat not to much and not often.

  3. Guadalupe S. Walden Avatar
    Guadalupe S. Walden

    I used to eat hot jalapenos when i was younger, but it has been a long time. i have finally thought to check the hot sauce bottles of tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper sauces. when i saw that they do not have tomato.–i decided to get back to having hot spices with my food. now with this information… i am happy to hear it helps with diabetes and high cholesterol … thanks a lot

  4. ELISSA JUNG Avatar

    I would like to add turmeric as a go to for inflammation. nowhere have I read how to use it in cooking rather than taking it in pill form. It comes powered and so does ginger.
    When I serve broccoli I first wash it in a solution of 1/3 white vinegar to 2/3 water, rinse cut into bite size pieces, Add thin sliced onion, a good shake of granulated garlic, sliced ( I peel mine) mushrooms, 1/8th t. turmeric, 1/8 t. ginger, black pepper and salt to taste (I use sea salt). 1/4 c. filtered water (I do my own filtering) and a goodly splash of olive oil. I microwave for 6 min on high. It tastes mighty good, my knees don’t hurt and I get lots of compliments. That is a win win combination. THS…tasty, healthy and safe.

  5. Virginia Hodges Avatar
    Virginia Hodges

    Capsaicin helps my knee pain . And I suffer with acid reflux and other problems , but the pepper don’t make it worst .

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