Ever bite into food so spicy you thought you'd die? Well, it turns out ordering your Pad Thai hot may actually be good for you, according to a new study.
The spicy food study, published this month in the British Medical Journal, found that people who consume spicy food have a 14 percent lower risk of death.
Spicy foods have been linked to health benefits for years. For example, the substance capsaicin, the main active component of chile pepper, is used in topical creams for pain relief. And some small studies have linked consumption of spicy food to lower cancer and obesity rates in certain populations. It's also considered an anti-inflammatory.
Researchers in this study, which looked at the dietary habits of nearly 500,000 Chinese men and women, found that those who consumed more spicy foods were less likely to die from cancer, ischemic heart diseases, and respiratory diseases, and were in general more likely to live longer lives than people whose diets contained less spicy food.
In conducting the study, researchers factored participants' age, gender, marital status, diabetes, hypertension, smoking status, and other factors correlated with mortality risk. However, they were unable to factor out other dietary considerations, such as a participant's other dietary habits (for example, how much food an individual ate).
Spicy foods that contain capsaicin like chiles may also contain other nutrients, such as potassium and vitamins C, A, K, and B6—at least when consumed fresh. (These nutrients may not be present in oils and dried powders.)
You can read the full study.
Get more on spicy foods:
- Chile Pepper Heat Index
- The Cooking Light Guide to Popular Peppers
- How to Cook Spicy Tortilla Soup with Shrimp and Avocado
- How to Cook Spicy Asian Chicken and Noodle Soup