People who eat spicy food every day have a lower risk of an early death, research suggests.
Scientists found that spicy food was linked to fewer deaths from cancer, heart disease, and breathing problems.
A study of nearly 500,000 middle-aged people found that those who ate a spicy meal every one or two days were far less likely to die than those who infrequently ate the food.
Scientists suspect that capsaicin — a chemical contained in chili peppers — has anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammation and cancer-fighting properties.
The research, published in the British Medical Journal, was based on a study of 487,000 Chinese people, each aged between the ages of 30 and 79.
Each participant was questioned about their general health and eating habits, and then tracked over the following seven years, in which time 20,224 of them died.
The researchers, from Oxford University, Harvard School of Public Health in the US and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, found that people who ate spicy food every one or two days were 14 percent less likely to die than those who ate it less than once a week.
Frequent consumption of spicy foods was particularly linked to a lower risk of death from cancer, heart disease, and breathing problems.
The authors stressed that because they had only looked at broad statistical trends, and not at the exact role spice had played in each case, they could draw no concrete conclusions about cause and effect.
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