Sound Bites: Do Hot Peppers and Coffee Lead To Longevity?

Some hot red peppers and black pepper lie on a dark board

May 30, 2017

What You Need to Know:

  • Eating hot peppers and drinking caffeine may help you live longer.
  • Coffee and yogurt could help cut your diabetes risk. 
  • Grapefruit is great for you, but not as a diet aid. 

By Megan O. Steintrager

Here’s this week’s round-up of health and wellness news from around the globe:

Hot Peppers for Your Health: Eating hot red chili peppers may boost your longevity, according to a new analysis published in PLOS One. The report, which used data on more than 16,000 American adults over a 23-year period, corroborates the findings of a 2015 Chinese study, The New York Times reports. “After controlling for age, sex, smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and other characteristics, they found that those who reported eating hot peppers had a 13 percent reduced risk of dying early,” the Times reports. The study is observational, so cause and effect can’t be proven, but if you like spicy food, this is a good reason to keep eating those hot peppers. Heat things up tonight with this Blistered Broccoli with Garlic and Chiles recipe.


The Longevity Boosting Powers of Caffeine: If you enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, here’s a reason to keep drinking up: Caffeine may counter the chronic inflammation associated with many age-related diseases, including some types of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and cardiovascular disease, according to new research from Stanford University School of Medicine. “That something many people drink — and actually like to drink — might have a direct benefit came as a surprise to us,” Mark Davis, Ph.D., one of the authors of the study, said in a news briefing from Stanford. As with the hot pepper study, this study shows correlation, not causation, between caffeine consumption and longevity — but it’s a pretty good possible perk of your morning pick me up.

Coffee cup on a day window background

Eat to Cut Your Diabetes Risk: Every year, 1.4 million people are diagnosed with diabetes in the United States, according to the American Diabetes Association. A healthy diet is essential to preventing or delaying Type 2 diabetes, and Nutrition Action has a helpful new list of six diet changes to quickly cut your diabetes risk. Suggestions include things you might expect — replacing unhealthy carbs like white flour with fiber-rich carbs, and cutting sugary drinks — but also some surprising advice like eating yogurt and drinking coffee (including decaf). Try one of Clean Plates’ savory yogurt recipes to get your yogurt in without added sugar.


Will Grapefruit Help You Lose Weight? Grapefruit’s longstanding reputation as a diet aid — the Grapefruit Diet has come in and out of vogue since the 1930s — isn’t backed up by scientific evidence. A recent systematic review looked at clinical trials that assessed weight loss in people who consumed grapefruit, grapefruit juice, and grapefruit powder versus control groups who used placebos, water, or nothing instead of grapefruit. The conclusion was that grapefruit conferred no weight loss benefit as a supplement, according to an article in the February issue of the Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter (available to subscribers). That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat grapefruit, though: The fruit, which is at its peak in the winter, is a fabulous source of immunity-bolstering vitamin C and may help control cholesterol levels. And if you replace less healthy foods in your diet with grapefruit, it may well help you lose weight. Read more about the health benefits of grapefruit and get a grapefruit salad recipe.

ripe grapefruits with leaves on wooden background

Fried Food Freak Out: A new campaign from the UK’s Food Standards Agency is causing some hand-wringing on both sides of the pond. The Go for Gold campaign encourages home cooks to cook foods like potatoes and toast to the point where they are golden, in order to reduce exposure to acrylamide, a potential carcinogen that forms when starchy foods are cooked at high temperatures and/or for long periods of time. The BBC has a good article about the campaign that addresses pressing questions, like whether you should stop eating roasted potatoes, and puts the risks of acrylamide in perspective. Bottom line: While it makes sense to try to limit your exposure to acrylamide, there’s no reason to completely give up a single food or group of foods if you eat a basically healthy, balanced diet and maintain a healthy body weight.