By TAP Integrative

Chili pepper consumption is inversely associated with all-cause mortality, according to a prospective cohort study that was conducted in China and published in 2015. To evaluate whether these findings are generalizable to Western populations, researchers at the University of Vermont College of Medicine conducted a similar analysis with data from the United States. The study, published by Chopan and Littenberg in Plos ONE (2017), evaluated a subsample of data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) III that was collected between 1988 and 1994.

A total of 16,179 participants completed a food frequency questionnaire and were then followed for a median of 18.9 years. On the questionnaire, participants were asked the following question in relation to the previous month’s food intake: “How often did you have hot chili peppers? Do not count ground red chili peppers.” Any person who answered more than zero to this question was classified as a chili pepper consumer. The primary outcome measures were total and cause-specific mortality.

During the follow-up period, a total of 4,946 deaths occurred. Total mortality was 21.6% for chili pepper consumers and 33.6% for non-consumers, for an absolute risk reduction of 12% and a relative risk of 0.64. The number needed to treat to prevent 1 death was 8.3. After adjusting for demographic, lifestyle, and clinical characteristics, the hazard ratio for all-cause mortality in chili pepper consumers was 0.87 (95% CI, 0.77-0.97; p=.01). This number corresponds to a 13% lower hazard of death in chili pepper consumers than in non-consumers.

Previous studies suggest that capsaicin is the active compound in chili peppers that confers health benefits. Capsaicin mediates lipid catabolism, increases thermogenesis, modulates coronary blood flow, and inactivates the inflammatory mediator NF-κB.

This study concludes that chili peppers may offer long-term health benefits, based on a general sample of the US population.

 

Reference

Chopan M, Littenberg B. The Association of Hot Red Chili Pepper Consumption and Mortality: A Large Population-Based Cohort Study. PLoS One. 2017;12(1).


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