Spicy food may save your life, maybe

Published 7:00 am Thursday, August 6, 2015

The South is known for its culinary delights, from red beans and rice, to your mom’s famous homemade gumbo. No matter the dish, here in Mississippi there’s one thing just about every truly southern dish has in common, lots of chili peppers.
As it turns out, a study outlined in Forbes and conducted by The BMJ states that over the course of seven years participants in China who ate spicy foods with chili peppers as an ingredient showed a decreased level of mortality due to illness and cancer.
Keep in mind that studies are released just about every day, and typically there’s another to debunk what the first found released a short time thereafter. But the information that follows is fun to think about.
The study suggests that a chemical in spicy peppers, capsaicin, is the main reason people who eat spicy foods find some benefit, which includes decreased rates of cancer and heart disease. The basic findings determined that the more often a person ate spicy food, the more their mortality rate decreased.
Of course, those who did not drink alcohol but ate spicy food saw an even greater decrease in their mortality rate.
Another thing to keep in mind is that fresh peppers provided the most benefit over the dried variety.
While capsaicin is scientifically proven to be a deterrent to mammals deciding to consume peppers, somehow humans have found a way to include chili peppers in our food.
But in addition to finding a way to add some heat to our dishes, the use of chili peppers also provides some needed vitamins and minerals, most notably vitamin C.
So the next time you think about making a big pot of red beans and rice, grab a couple extra jalapenos or any other chili pepper of preference. Not only will you be adding some kick to the meal, you may just be preventing illness.

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