The People's Perspective on Medicine

Hot Pepper Lovers Live Longer So Fire Up Your Tastebuds

Do you like salsa? Do you cherish chiles? If you are a red hot pepper lover you could be lengthening and strengthening your life. Read the latest research!

Ok, I admit it. I cannot be neutral about this topic since I am a confirmed “chile-head.” I love hot peppers. I’m not the only one. Salsa sales are soaring. The market for hot sauce swelled more than 150% over the last several years. It’s nice to know that there is growing scientific support for pepper lovers’ passion. No matter how you spell hot peppers (chili, chilli, or chile), the capsaicin ingredient that tingles taste buds is revered around the world.

Chile Peppers and Longevity:

Investigators from the University of Vermont examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III covering over 16,000 American adults who were followed for 19 years (PLOS One, Jan. 9, 2017). Those who reported eating hot peppers were about 13 percent less likely to die during the study.

Here’s how the data broke down. Over the roughly two decades of the study 4,946 people died. The people who shunned spicy stuff had a mortality rate of 33.6 percent. The hot red chili pepper lovers died at a 21.6 percent rate. This was after the investigators controlled for things like diet, smoking, blood pressure, age, gender, diabetes, and other risk factors. The authors concluded:

“In this large population-based prospective study, the consumption of hot red chili pepper was associated with reduced mortality. Hot red chili peppers may be a beneficial component of the diet.”

The History of Hot Stuff:

Chile pepper lovers have been around for thousands of years. Indigenous peoples of Mexico were using hot chiles 7,000 to 9,000 years ago. It didn’t take the people of South Asia long to catch up. Red hot peppers caught on there in the 1500s. India is now a major producer and consumer of chile peppers. People in China and Thailand also cherish chiles.

Health Benefits for Pepper Lovers:

Hot peppers and other pungent spices have a range of health benefits. Capsaicin has been shown to improve heart health. The hot stuff in hot peppers (capsaicin) improves circulation, lowers cholesterol and triglycerides, relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. It may also have anti-cancer potential.

The analysis from researchers at the University of Vermont College of Medicine is not the first hint that hot pepper lovers live longer. A large study in China found a similar association in 2015. The investigators tracked 199,293 men and 288,082 women for over seven years. People who loved spicy foods had significantly better mortality stats than individuals who preferred bland food (BMJ, Aug. 4, 2015). The authors note:

“Compared with those who ate spicy foods less than once a week, those who consumed spicy foods 6 or 7 days a week showed a 14% relative risk reduction in total mortality…Inverse associations were also observed for deaths due to cancer, ischemic heart diseases, and respiratory diseases.”

So, two independent large prospective studies confirmed a relationship between hot chile pepper consumption and longer life. In one study the “lower hazard of death” was 13% and in the other it was 14%. That’s amazingly close. And these were distinctly different populations–Americans and Chinese.

The authors of the PLOS One study propose that TRP channels could be part of the mechanism. Never heard of Transient Receptor Potential channels before? Then you have not been reading The People’s Pharmacy carefully. In this article, you will learn why stimulating TRP channels with things like capsaicin, acetic acid (vinegar), mustard, ginger or cinnamon can stop muscle cramps in under two minutes.

Interview with one of the brilliant neuroscientists who came up with this approach:

TRP activation may help modulate coronary blood flow as well as impact a number of other biological systems. Hot peppers may also affect the make-up of the microbes in the digestive tract, which could also have a positive impact on human health. And let’s not forget that chile peppers contain lots of essential nutrients including vitamin C and several B vitamins.

Hot Pepper Lovers Share their Secrets:

Visitors to this website have been singing the praises of hot chili peppers for years. Here is just one example about using chili peppers to overcome migraines.

Would you like to learn more about hot chile peppers and other spices? We have three wonderful books for your reading and tasting pleasure. Do not eat the books, but in all three you will find recipes and fascinating stories about the healing power of food. In particular, you will discover how spices like hot chile peppers could enhance your life.

First, is our standby: The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies

Next comes Recipes and Recipes from The People’s Pharmacy

and our most recent book, Spice Up Your Health: How Everyday Kitchen Herbs & Spices Can Lengthen & Strengthen Your Life.

When you take advantage of our special sale you can save $7.90 on all three.

Why not spice up your life by joining pepper lovers all over the world?

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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To cool the heat of the peppers when eating them, drink something sweet, such as fruit juice or soda pop. While the sugar tames the fire, a lemon/lime soft drink also helps the digestion. NEVER drink water for this purpose as it will make your mouth and stomach burn worse. I learned all this while living in the American Southwest. When my nose is congested or I have a cough, I eat hot salsa with tostada chips. It opens my sinuses and stops my cough.

I guess those of us with heartburn won’t live as long.

I really love the flavour of salsa and other red pepper dishes, but if it’s very “hot” it makes my mouth & throat burn for hours and leaves me a little hoarse.

Has anyone come out with a capsule that could serve the same purpose without causing those problems? Then I could continue to enjoy my sissy foods and still get more benefit.

I eat jalapeno peppers almost every day, but they are green peppers. In the study above- (NHANES) III, the participants were eating only “hot red chili peppers.”

Do the benefits of eating hot red peppers extend to eating hot green peppers?

I have had a like /dislike of chili peppers mainly because of the effects, afterwards. I have learned over the years that there is a way to eat chili peppers properly and get to enjoy the full flavors of these peppers.

I highly recommend one tries to enjoy these very favorable peppers. Good source is Hatch Chili Peppers where you can get them both jarred and freshly roasted at end of growing season.

Chinese Hot & Sour Soup may be great for migraines and other ailments. I use it consistently. While Hot & Sour Soup does a great job at clearing the head and sinuses, it does not normally contain chiles.

The “hot” in this soup comes from rice vinegar and white pepper. Dried chiles or black pepper may be used by some American-style “Chinese” restaurants, but the standard is white pepper. Chiles and white and black pepper come from different species. It may not matter if it works, but we should know the difference.

Oh, well. My husband has the advantage: he loves the hot stuff…I hate it. Always have. A little Chipotle, perhaps (very little!) but even THAT is pushing it. ?

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