We often hear a lot about the different foods and diets that are the best for our health. Fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, nuts, dairy – the list of superfoods goes on and on! But now, you may want to add some spice to your diet after a recent study revealed a link between spicy food and longevity.
A Small Ingredient with a Big Impact
This study’s results may seem surprising. After all, how many times do you see spicy food on the list of healthy foods that promote longevity? Though surprising, this study does have some strong evidence supporting this link between spicy food and longevity.
Published in the BMJ, the study involved researchers analyzing dietary data from more than 485,000 participants. On average, the health of these participants was recorded for more than seven years as part of a larger health study. Throughout this time, 20,224 deaths were recorded.
After considering numerous factors including age, family medical history, smoking, diabetes and education, researchers came to the following two conclusions: (1) participants who ate spicy food once or twice a week lowered their overall risk for death by 10 percent, and (2) participants who ate spicy food six to seven times a week lowered this risk by 14 percent.
In addition to lowering their overall risk for death, those who ate the most spicy foods, particularly chili peppers, also lowered their risk of ischemic heart disease (which can lead to heart failure), cancers and respiratory diseases.
So what exactly makes spicy food so beneficial? There’s no definitive conclusion on this, but researchers believe that the ingredient capsaicin in chili peppers is key in promoting longevity, as it has been proven to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Spicy (and Healthy) Recipes
So now that you know a little bit more about the possible link between spicy food and longevity, it might be time to start thinking about how you can spice up your diet! Luckily, we got plenty of spicy and healthy recipes that’ll help you do just that:
- Wok-Seared Chicken and Vegetables: Perhaps the best thing about stir fry is that you can choose what ingredients you’d like to add, but to get the health benefits of spicy food, this particular recipe calls for red onion, green bell pepper, orange carrots and spice-coated chicken.
- Grilled Pork Tenderloin Marinated in Spicy Soy Sauce: This recipe might be a good option for you if you’re not a huge fan of super spicy foods but still like the sweet and spicy combo. Serve with a salad, rice or snow peas and this simple recipe turns into a great dinner!
- Spaghetti Squash and Pork Stir-Fry: This may seem like an odd combination, but the spaghetti squash strands really keep the rich flavor of the fresh ginger, sesame oil, garlic and the hint of red chili sauce the recipe calls for.
Not a fan of spicy food? It’s certainly an acquired taste, but there are some other simple ways that you can get similar health benefits. Along with the benefits outlined above, did you know that spicy foods boost your metabolism? Click here to view our list of nine metabolism-boosting foods (don’t worry – none of the foods of this list are spicy!), and enjoy.