Can't get enough hot sauce? The heartburn is worth it: all that spiciness might just be extending your life. The New York Times reports that a new study links eating chili peppers with living longer.
Harvard researchers analyzed a Chinese health study of 485,000 people, who were followed for around seven years each. The researchers gave the participants medical exams and questionnaires about diet and lifestyle. Over the time period of the study, which was published in BMJ, 20,224 of those people died.
They found that the spicier your diet, the longer you tend to live. People who ate food flavored with chili peppers (and other spices) were 10% less likely to die, and people who ate spicy food six or seven times a week had a 14% lower risk of death. These results were controlled for factors like age, smoking, and family medical history. The correlation was even stronger than the link between abstaining from alcohol and living longer.
Though the researchers won't definitively say why chili peppers are linked to a longer life, they did point to the fact that spicy food fans were also less likely to have cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease. A main ingredient in spicy foods, capsaicin, has been known to have positive health effects.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.