Some of my earliest exposure to hot peppers came from my Uncle Michele when I was a child, and again while in medical school. Before our Sunday family dinners in Pennsylvania, he would go out the back door to pick some fresh hot peppers right from the garden. Then, he would come back to the table and spread them on top of his pasta.
Later, I learned about the science showing that eating hot chili peppers is quite good for your health. And more recently, one study has even found it improves your lifespan!
But before I get into that new research, let’s back up to discuss how hot peppers affect the body…
Hot peppers help keep your internal systems cool
About 20 years ago, the Philadelphia Flower Show included a colorful, memorable display that featured chili peppers in many different shades of red, green, yellow, and orange. The display also included a chart that explained the “heat” levels of different varieties.
Of course, a pepper’s heat doesn’t relate to its color. Instead, a pepper’s color is a sign of its maturity. In fact, as peppers mature, their healthy carotenoid pigments accumulate and the pepper’s color deepens.
Meanwhile, a pepper’s heat comes from a healthy compound called capsaicin. You actually find the highest concentration of it in the pepper’s ribs and connective tissues (the whitish, pale flesh). (When you dice a pepper, the seeds get coated with capsaicin…leading some to believe the heat comes from the seeds.)
In addition to adding “heat” to the pepper, capsaicin also acts as a potent anti-inflammatory compound in the body and even helps keep you cool. As a result, eating foods with capsaicin can protect you against atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and obesity…which are all conditions related to chronic inflammation.
(I suppose it’s one of Nature’s many paradoxes that something hot to the taste can tame internal inflammation.)
Plus, we now know eating hot peppers can even extend your lifespan…
Chili pepper eaters live longer
Numerous studies illustrate that greater consumption of chili peppers is associated with substantial health benefits—including a longer lifespan.
In fact, in a recent eight-year study of nearly 23,000 Italian men and women, researchers found that those who ate chili peppers at least four times a week were 23 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who didn’t eat any.
Plus, the chili pepper eaters had a whopping 40 percent lower risk of death from heart attacks!
Of course, that finding didn’t surprise me one bit, considering what we know about capsaicin. Plus, as I mentioned above, I watched my healthy, robust Uncle Michele enjoy hot peppers his whole life!
So, put this natural paradox to work for you by including chili peppers in your meals a few times a week, as my uncle did. You can sprinkle them into salads, soups, and marinades. Or—try them on top of chicken, burgers, or sausages hot off the grill.
You can learn much more about the many benefits of eating hot chili peppers in the April 2020 issue of my Insiders’ Cures monthly newsletter (“The ‘hottest’ way to add years to your life”). If you’re not yet a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started—you don’t want to miss this important report!
“The Association of Hot Red Chili Pepper Consumption and Mortality: A Large Population-Based Cohort Study,” PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (1): e0169876. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0169876
“Chili Pepper Consumption and Cardiovascular Mortality.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 12/24/2019; 74(25): 3150-3152. doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2019.08.1071.