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).