Order your next margarita with extra spice. The extra kick may just add a few years onto your life.
A spicy food study published in January found that “consumption of hot red chili peppers was associated with a 13 percent reduction in the instantaneous hazard of death.” Those are the exact words in the abstract of the paper, and when scientists claim they know how to reduce your risk of “instantaneous hazard of death,” you should probably take notice. And by take notice, I mean start spicing up your cocktails.
The study analyzed the frequency of hot red chili pepper consumption of 16,179 people who were 18 or older between 1988 and 1994. Then, almost 19 years later, the researchers took a second look at the data set. Nearly 5,000 people from the study had died. Of the pepper eaters, 21.6 percent died. Of the non pepper eaters, 33.6 percent died.
Those researchers weren’t the only ones curious about the spice of life. According to the BBC, another study in China found similar results for spicy pepper eaters.
The “why” isn’t as clear as the reduction in the instantaneous hazard of death. A lot of factors can get in the way when it comes to measuring someone’s health, but researchers believe that capsaicin, the compound in peppers that makes it spicy, increases blood flow and possibly even makes your gut bacteria healthier.
Not all spice is created equal, however. Horseradish, the ingredient that commonly makes Bloody Mary’s spicy, gets its heat from a different compound called allyl isothiocynate. There isn’t a study that shows the two have the same effects, so for now, stick to the jalapeño and serrano in your margaritas (or a spicy blackberry margarita for something a little different).
- 2 ounces of tequila (or mezcal if you like your spice with smoke)
- 6 slices of jalapeño with the seeds
- 1 ounce of agave nectar
- Juice from 1/2 a lime
Add all of the ingredients except for three slices of jalapeño into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 15 seconds. Strain into a salted glass with ice. Garnish with lime and the remaining jalapeño slices.