Eat More Wasabi and Live Longer!
There is a growing body of evidence showing that eating spicy food can not only add life to your years, they add years to your life! Researchers collaborating from the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital published the results of a study conducted in China that compared adults who ate spicy foods regularly with those who did not. The study, which gathered data from over 487,000 people aged 30-79, found that people who eat spicy foods 6 or 7 times a week, had a 14% lower risk of premature death for all causes than people who ate spicy foods less than once a week. In addition, spicy food frequent flyers had a lower risk of cancer, ischemic heart and respiratory system diseases. While the study is not definitive, it definitely is cause for more study.
Eating spicy food has long been considered good for you, and has even been touted by folk medicine practitioners as an aid to fighting infection and stimulating the kidneys, lungs and heart. There is an association between one of the active ingredients in chili peppers, capsaicin, and good health. Capsaicin has been found to have anti-obesity, antioxidant and anti-inflammation properties.
The caveat to the Chinese study in particular, is that the spicy food available in Asia is different than what is available in the US, which speaks to the need for further study. In fact, researchers note that while there is access to plenty of spicy food in America, availability does not necessarily equal consumption. It is also not clear if spicy food in combination with healthy foods, like kimchee, is the reason for the longevity benefit or if all spicy foods impart the benefit.
The bottom line for spicy foods is to enjoy the spice, but don’t take the opportunity to use potential longevity as an excuse to eat more hot wings.