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Spicy Foods May Help Keep Cancer & Heart Disease At Bay

1 year, 6 months ago

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Posted on Mar 19, 2019, 6 p.m.

Spicy foods provide a kick to taste, but they may do more than that as researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health have found eating spicy foods can help you to live longer, as well as decrease risks of dying from cancer, heart disease, and respiratory problems.

Health and diet data was collected from 487,375 individuals aged 30-79 to look at links between regular consumption of spicy foods and mortality; after a follow up of 7.2 years on average 11,820 deaths among men and 8,404 death among women occurred. Those who ate spicy foods on a regular basis were 14% more likely to live longer; and less likely to die from cancer, heart disease, and respiratory problems based on their findings after taking into consideration other known factors. The most commonly used spices were fresh and dried chili pepper.

Building of these findings another study has been published in the journal PLOS ONE supporting spicy foods helping to prolong life, from University of Vermont College researchers who assessed 16,179 adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1988-1994. During the follow of period of 20 years 4,946 people died; those who ate red chili pepper died at a rate of 12% less than those who did not. Finding suggest consuming chili pepper may lower rates of death from any cause, but was strongest for deaths caused by vascular diseases.

Capsaicin found in chili peppers/jalapenos/cayenne pepper has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-obesity properties. Other studies support the association of spicy foods and prevention of diseases such as the study published in the American Chemical Society revealing capsaicin helping to reduce risk of cholesterol buildup, and improving blood flow in the vessels.

Third Military Medical University researchers have shown those who enjoy spicy foods are less likely to eat salt, leading them to have lower risk of heart problems associated with high blood pressure, as spicy foods were found to trick the brain into wanting less salt. Regions of the brain responsive to saltiness and spiciness were found to overlap in brain scans; spiciness increased activity in brain areas affected by salt, meaning those who ate more spicy foods were more sensitive to salt so they ate less salty foods.

Numerous studies have shown chili peppers to reduce the acidity in the digestive tract that causes ulcers, relieve joint pain, aid in weight loss, alleviate migraines, prevent bad breath, combat allergies, soothe psoriasis,  protect against cancer, and to strengthen the immune system, among other benefits.

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