Food & Drink

Eating Spicy Foods Could Help You Live Longer

Spicy Peppers
Foodio/Shutterstock

The next time you reach for one more hot wing -- your brow caked with sweat, mouth on fire, gut busting the last notch on your belt to its breaking point -- remember: It's all for your (long-term) health, man.

A new study from the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont found regularly consuming red hot chili peppers (the food, not these guys) could lead to a "13 percent reduction in total mortality." In layman's terms, this means the spicy peppers will help you, um... die less. So don't feel guilty if you want to invest a couple hundred dollars into your growing hot sauce collection.

This is the latest study to make the claim that spicy food facilitates a longer life. It was notably more expansive and thorough than previous studies, using data collected from more than 16,000 Americans that were followed for up to 23 years in some cases. The data showed a diet high in spicy foods like chili peppers reduced mortality in test subjects, slowing down fatalities related to high blood pressure and strokes in particular.

Despite the validity of their findings, the researchers have yet to discover why a diet high in hot chili peppers can improve long-term health. But the study's two main authors, professor Benjamin Littenberg, MD and medical student Mustafa Chopan '17, state that capsaicin, an active ingredient in chili peppers, may "play a role in cellular and molecular mechanisms that prevent obesity and modulate coronary blood flow," and that the peppers also possess antimicrobial properties that might alter someone's gut bacteria (for the better). 

Regardless, it's good to know that Taco Bell has always had my best interest at heart. I always knew I liked those guys. 

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Wil Fulton is a staff writer for Thrillist. He's never once peed on a busboy, but once he threw up on a horse. Follow him @wilfulton.