A fresh red pepper does not only add flavor to your food, but it can also improve your health considerably, according to a new study, which was published in the British Medical Journal.
The health benefits of spicy food have been debated by health experts. Some say that it might have negative effects on our body, as it has been linked to gastritis, bad breath, insomnia, acid reflux and damage to taste buds.
On the other hand, others regard it as healthy because it has been proved that spicy food helps the person say fit or lose weight and it has been associated with lower risks of cancer, lower blood pressure and a healthier heart.
The researchers from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences involved in this study encourage the use of spice in our food because, according to their findings, it can make us healthier and help us live longer.
The study involved analyzing the diets that about half a million (487,375) Chinese people had had for seven years. Their ages varied from 3 to 79 years old. They had to answer questions related to their diet, including the daily intake of spicy food, vegetables, meat, alcohol and details related to their general health. About 20,000 deaths were recorded over that period of time.
It was revealed that those who prefer to eat spicy food at least once a week had up to 10 percent lower risk of suffering from premature death. The most popular spicy food was the chilli pepper.
Moreover, those who ate spicy food 3 to 7 times every week lowered their chances of death by 14 percent. There were no notable differences between men and women, but the risks remained lower for those who did not drink alcohol.
“Frequent consumption of spicy foods was also linked to a lower risk of death from cancer, and ischaemic heart and respiratory system diseases, and this was more evident in women than men,” wrote the authors of the study.
Although the paper was based merely on observations and further research needs to be carried out to establish a relationship between cause and effect, the authors of the study strongly recommend that changes should be made in people’s diet to help them have a healthier lifestyle.
However, they provided an explanation for the link between spicy food and longevity, as they said it might have something to do with the fact that chilli contains considerable amounts of vitamin C, capsaicin and various other nutrients that have positive effects on our body.
Other research has previously pointed out that spices have anti-carcinogenic, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammation properties, according to Nita Forouhi, from Cambridge University, who wrote an editorial accompanying the research.
Other experts remain skeptical and advise us against reading too much into the findings. One of them is Professor Kevin McConway, from Open University, who said that the cooking manner and the use of spices in the Chinese cuisine could have something to do with it.
In addition to that, the people who never drank alcohol were reported to be the healthiest. Therefore, the connection might be elsewhere.
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