Eating Spicy Food May Help you Live Longer

Eating Spicy Food May Help you Live Longer

Photo Credit: ilmoro100/Thinkstock

I’ve heard a rumor that you can actually train your body to like spicy foods, even if you prefer mild on the regular. The trick is to place small shakes of cayenne or chili pepper onto unassuming food (just a bit so it’s not overwhelming). Things like smoothies, soups, popcorn, stir-frys, yogurt, sandwiches and curries with coconut milk will mask the burn as long as you don’t go overboard. For some reason, the body adapts to the heat and flavor and begins to crave it...and the rest is spice history.

You can count me in on implementing this spice trick, especially after research has emerged about the major benefits of eating fiery foods including it being linked to a longer life.

Though experts say that more research is needed, according to a new study, frequently eating spicy foods may correlate with a slightly lower risk of an earlier death.

In the study, researchers surveyed almost 500,000 people in China and how often they chow down on spicy foods. Ages ranged from 30 to 79 from the beginning of the study and the researchers checked in with them for about seven years, during which time approximately 20,000 of the participants died.

The study showed that people who ate spicy foods one or two days a week were at least 10 percent less likely to die during the study, according to the study published on Aug. 4, 2015 in the journal The BMJ.

Furthermore, turns out that upping the intake to eating spicy foods daily lowered their risk of death up to 14 percent (compared to those who ate spicy foods less than once a week).

Between the choices of fresh chili pepper, dried chili pepper, chili sauce and chili oil, the participants claimed to frequently eat fresh and dried chili peppers, with fresh chili peppers showing even more potency in it’s life-extending abilities.

People with a history of various health problems like cancer, heart disease, and stroke were not allowed to participate in the study, and factors such as age, marital status, level of education, and physical activity were accounted for.

No one knows exactly why the consumption of spicy foods may increase longevity, but there are studies that suggest it’s because:

  1. They are anti-inflammatory.
  2. They help break down fat cells (antiobesity).
  3. It changes the composition of gut bacteria.
  4. They’re anticarcinogenic.

The special bioactive ingredient in spicy peppers, capsaicin, has recently undergone extensive research and is found to have many great health benefits from fighting unwanted gut bacteria to boosting metabolism and encouraging damaged nerves to re-grow. Capsaicin is also believed to be helpful for arthritis, muscle pain Eating chili-infused foods has also been linked to a lower risk of cancer and heart and respiratory conditions.

If there’s one dish I miss eating from my childhood it would be my mother’s Burmese Khow Suey, a coconut noodle curry dish. Here is a vegan adaptation to put the chili goodness into effect in your home. Enjoy!

Khow Suey


3 cups of cooked rice noodles (or any noodles of your choice)

350 ml thick coconut milk

½ cup plain coconut yogurt

2 Tbsp of chickpea flour

1 tsp freshly ground cumin powder

1 tsp freshly ground coriander powder

1 tsp turmeric

1 teaspoon red chili powder

2 cloves of crushed garlic

1 tablespoon of healthy cooking oil of your choice

1 dash of cayenne pepper

salt & pepper to taste

Veggie Mashup

½ cup of finely chopped beans (steamed)

½ cup of finely shredded raw cabbage

2 cups cooked chickpeas (this is what I use instead of chicken)

1 cup of chopped tomatoes

1 cup chopped spring onions

3 tablespoons of finely chopped coriander leaves

1/4 cup freshly squeezed limejuice

1 tsp sesame oil (to top it off)

1 cup dried onions (for a topping)


1. Mix together the coconut milk, 2 cups of water, ½ cup yogurt and chickpea flour and whisk them well until the chickpea flour has dissolved.

2. Heat oil in a pan and crushed garlic, then ginger and sauté on medium for a few seconds.

3. Add the above coconut milk and water, spices and salt & pepper. Allow it to get to a boil, and then simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Divide the noodles into 4 serving bowls.

5. Then place the steamed beans, cooked chickpeas, chopped raw cabbage, spring onions, coriander leaves into the four bowls.

6. Pour in the hot coconut curry into the noodle mixture until you see it rising to the top of the bowl. Add a teaspoon of limejuice to all the bowls, top with coriander leaves, sesame oil and dried onions.

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