(Carla Wade : WFAA)
While all of us have heard people say variety is the spice of life, it turns out spice really could be the key to a longer life.
If you want to live a long and healthy life, a recent study suggests spicing up your diet might do the trick.
The study was done on half-a-million Chinese people. They wrote down what they ate every day. Researchers analyzed thousands of the food diaries for seven years.
“Love spicy food, big fan of it,” said Ramon Guajardo Jr. who sometimes grabs lunch from a food truck at Klyde Warren Park and then adds on more flavor in the form of hot sauce or peppers.
Turns out, the power is in the peppers. A recent study in the British Medical Journal found that people who ate lots of spicy foods lowered their risk of premature death by 14 percent.
Spicy foods offer unique health benefits
“People that would eat the peppers, more like six and seven times a week,” said Sharon Cox, a registered dietician who works for Parkland Health & Hospital System.
Researchers found spice lovers had a lower risk of both cancer and heart and respiratory diseases.
“It’s mainly the capsaicin that gives you the health benefits,” Cox said. “The antioxidant that helps to reduce your cell damage.”
That bio-active ingredient in peppers is also linked to increased metabolism and lower blood sugar.
When it came to the study asking what spicy foods they ate the most, the answer was something many Texans can relate to. Chili pepper was the most commonly used spice. But once people started eating more peppers, they began to include a wider variety of spices and spicy foods in their diet.
“I definitely like my dad’s Habanero hot sauce, which we put on our eggs, beans, and rice,” Guajardo Jr. said.
So eat up, but choose wisely. Experts say it’s better to get your peppers from fresh produce than pizza, hot wings or other fatty foods.