Could Eating Chili Peppers Potentially Help You Live Longer?

By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN

I like spicy food in moderation — I’ll usually order my dishes with medium spice at Thai and Korean restaurants. Chili peppers add flavor to our food. But could they also add health benefits? And might they potentially help you live longer?

A recent study in PLOS One looked at how hot red chili peppers may affect lifespan. They looked at more than 16,000 adults in the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, finding that eating hot red chili peppers was associated with a 13 percent lower chance of death, compared with not eating them at all. People who consumed them were more likely to be younger, white, or Mexican-American males.  

Study authors note that capsaicin present in the peppers may help protect against heart disease — and may alter the gut microbiome, which may affect risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. However, the authors did not find significant association with health outcomes other than mortality in their analysis.

In this study, only the impact of whole hot red chili peppers was investigated, versus that of ground red chili peppers. If you’re looking to add some hot red chili peppers to your meal plan, try these recipes:

Chicken Pad Thai (opt for red chili peppers) SmartPoints® value: 10
Easy Thai Beef Salad (opt for red chili peppers) SmartPoints value: 4
Thai-Roasted Tofu with Chili and Basil (opt for red chili peppers) SmartPoints value: 7

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you eat red chili peppers? What are your favorite ways to do so? Discuss with me on Connect @amy_gorin

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Amy Gorin is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. She also works as a nutrition consultant and media coach. Amy is the former Senior Editor of Weight Watchers Magazine and WeightWatchers.com and has written hundreds of articles on nutrition and health. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.