BURLINGTON, Vt., Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Researchers at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont have found that consuming hot red chili peppers may reduce total mortality.
The study found a 13 percent reduction in total mortality, especially in heart attacks and strokes, in people who consumed hot red chili peppers on a regular basis.
A previous study in 2015 in China looked at chili pepper consumption and its relation to a reduction in mortality.
For the most recent study, researchers used data from more than 16,000 Americans over a 23-year time period from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, or NHANES.
The research found that people who ate hot red chili peppers were more likely to be "younger, male, white, Mexican-American, married, and to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and consume more vegetables and meats ... had lower HDL-cholesterol, lower income, and less education."
Researchers conducted a median follow-up of 18.9 years, and looked at the mortality rate and causes of death in the participants.
"Although the mechanism by which peppers could delay mortality is far from certain, Transient Receptor Potential [TRP] channels, which are primary receptors for pungent agents such as capsalcin [the principal component in chili peppers], may in part be responsible for the observed relationship," medical student Mustafa Chopan and Dr. Benjamin Littenberg, professor of medicine at the University of Vermont, said in a press release.
Researchers said possible causes of the health benefits of red chili peppers relates to the principal component capsaicin, which is known to prevent obesity, regulate coronary blood flow, and possesses antimicrobial properties.
The study was published in PLoS ONE.