Jury still out on spicy food and aging

Costa Rica’s cuisine runs counter to an observational study that suggests spicy foods are linked to lower risk of death. Still, there are many persons here older than 100 years.

Everyone can agree that the Tico food is generally mild with the possible exception of  Salsa Lizano or a Caribbean pati meat pie. In fact, many tourists are disappointed because they thought all Latin food was hot, as is typical in some regions of México.

There are some condiments here that will stop the table chatter for a few minutes, and there are Indian restaurants and jalapeños and other chillis available at the market.

The British Medical Journal said that previous research has suggested the beneficial effects of spices and their bioactive ingredient, capsaicin, include anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammation and anticancer properties.

The journal published a report by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences who examined the association between consumption of spicy foods as part of a daily diet and the total risk and causes of death.

The researchers had access to a data base of some 487,375 individuals. During a median follow-up of 7.2 years, there were 20,224 deaths.

Participants who ate spicy foods almost every day had a 14 percent lower risk of death compared to those who consumed spicy foods less than once a week, the report said.

The association was similar in both men and women, and was stronger in those who did not consume alcohol, it added. Fresh and dried chilli peppers were the most commonly used spices in those who reported eating spicy foods weekly, according to the report.

The medical journal issued a caution that this study did not prove causation. One commentator said that eating spicy foods might be related to other dietary or lifestyle factors.

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