Science Says Eating Hot, Spicy Food Is Actually Good For Your Health

Flickr / Joel Kramer
Flickr / Joel Kramer

We all have that one friend. The supreme lover of all foods hot and spicy.

The human being who commonly mistakes hot sauce for ketchup. They order their Pad Thai as hot as possible (none of that “1-5 on the spicy scale” bullshit.) The ones who not only accept a restaurant’s spicy food eating challenge, they embrace it and happily wait to sign preliminary health documents. Faded polaroid photos of these people hang like badges of honor in the ‘Hall of Fame’ section of these restaurants. It’s just another day of capsaicin-filled glory.

These are the people that are constantly overindulging in food barely edible by most; food that intimidates mainstream mild mannerisms. The ones that have even engrained themselves into spicy food culture: they’ve seen the sriracha documentary, multiple times.

These people, are my people.

Fortunately, eating hot food isn’t bad for you after all. In fact, quite the opposite has proven to be true. A seven year study by BMJ on this idea was recently wrapped up. The diets of half a million people from China were monitored over these seven years. Luckily the study conveys huge promise for spicy food enthusiasts.

A surprising trend was recognized.

Men and women aged 30 to 79 years, initially all free of cancer, heart disease, and stroke made up the tested demographic. Out of these healthy individuals, the ones who consumed spicy foods regularly, around 6 or 7 times a week, showed a 14% reduction in mortality rate, as opposed to those who didn’t eat much spicy food. This was even more prominent in those who ate a lot of spicy food, and didn’t consume alcohol.

But just how many people in the world indulge in spicy food because they down right love it?

A scholarly piece by University of Cincinnati professor Joel E. Mortensen studies the health benefits of capsaicin. The study titled “The Power of Capsaicin,” shows that spicy food consumption is more popular than most would think:

“Chili peppers and capsaicin influence the dietary habits of many people around the world. Today, chili peppers are the most widely used seasoning on Earth. It is estimated that as many as three-quarters of the population include peppers in their diet regularly.”

Furthermore, the study states:

“Human use of chili peppers dates back to prehistoric times. Archeologists have shown that humans ate wild chili peppers as early as 7000 B.C.E. and probably domesticated peppers between 5200 B.C.E. and 3400 B.C.E.”

A whole, the world loves spicy food, and we pretty much always have. This is heart-warming to some, as well as spicy to the pallet.

Do you have a favorite type of brutally hot pepper? Maybe a habanero covered pizza is more your style, or you prefer to grow your own ghost chillis? Share your favorite heat-ridden tendencies below. TC mark

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