Eat chili peppers for a longer (and hotter) life

The next time you make dinner, throw some red, hot chili peppers into the dish. New research links them with improved longevity.

For this new study, researchers at the University of Vermont analyzed dietary and lifestyle data on a cohort of more than 16,000 people and followed them for up to 23 years.

Overall, they found the volunteers who ate hot chili peppers typically were younger white men, and Mexican-American men. These men were also typically married, ate more meat, drank alcohol, smoked cigarettes, and ate more vegetables compared to those who didn’t eat hot peppers.

So — if you read between the lines, it means the non-pepper eaters basically followed the nanny government’s  dietary recommendations — eating more carbs and grains (since they ate less meat and vegetables). And they didn’t drink or smoke.

After an average follow-up period of 19 years, the researchers calculated the numbers and causes of deaths. They took into account consumption of foods with other spices, as well as lifestyle, physical activity, and social factors.

Overall, they found that chili pepper eaters had a 13 percent reduction in death rates — primarily in deaths due to heart disease or stroke. So — regardless of physical activity, and despite drinking, smoking and eating more meat — the chili pepper eaters had few heart attacks and strokes, and lived significantly longer than their peers.

Of course, that finding didn’t surprise me one bit.

Chili peppers contain constituents that have antioxidant activity. They also benefit blood sugar, digestion, heart health, and inflammation. Plus, research links capsaicin — the principle component in chili peppers — with protection against atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and obesity.

Chili peppers are also a famous and celebrated part of the Mexican-American diet. And prior studies show Mexican-American men overall have better health and longevity, on average, despite their supposed risk factors like drinking, smoking, and lower socio-economic status.

A little bit goes a long way

Remember, you eat red hot chili peppers with a meal not as a meal. But even at spice quantities, red peppers contain high levels of vitamin C and healthy amounts of B vitamins and carotenoids. They also show anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-oxidant effects. And they have benefits that help prevent cardiovascular diseases, Type II diabetes, liver diseases, and obesity.

As I often report, garlic, ginger, and turmeric also offer similar health benefits. Indeed, Indian curries contain several different spices such as turmeric and red chili peppers. They are like the world’s first dietary supplement formulations. The very use of spices all over the world for thousands of years basically demonstrates the principles of sound dietary supplementation.

You can also eat tasty treats that combine chili peppers with other healthy ingredients like cacao in dark chocolate.

Even if you can’t or don’t eat dishes with hot spices like curry or chili peppers, you can still get them and their active ingredients in dietary supplements. A good dose of science backs up their use.

But as I always advise, don’t try to overcome bad habits by taking drugs or even dietary supplements. Instead, follow a healthy overall diet and lifestyle. And as the new study shows, just adding a few red chili peppers to your meals can reduce death rates and increase longevity even in men who drink, smoke and eat more meat.

I will tell you more about chili peppers in the upcoming April issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. If you’re not yet a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started so you won’t miss this important report.


  1. “The Association of Hot Red Chili Pepper Consumption and Mortality: A Large Population-Based Cohort Study,” PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (1): e0169876 DOI