For decades, scientists have suspected that spicy foods have some major health benefits. Why else would humans be drawn to a substance that so obviously cases us pain? After all, no other animal on the planet loves spice the way we humans do.
After decades of speculation, it looks like we might finally have an answer to humanity's spice vice. Thanks to a new study from the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, scientists have just discovered that spicy foods can actually help us live longer.
The study used data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, which was collected from more than 16,000 Americans over a span of 23 years. They found regularly consuming red hot chili peppers could lead to a whopping 13 per cent reduction in mortality.
Although the study suggests that spice is certainly good for us, it still doesn't explain why. However, some scientists think that humans evolved to enjoy spicy food thanks to its bacteria-fighting benefits.
Capsicums, including chilies and other hot peppers, have the ability to kill or inhibit up to 75 per cent of the bacteria that invades it. Before the age of refrigerators and sell by dates, this would have been an important factor in deciding which foods to eat. Over time, we could have evolved a taste for spice because it was less likely to kill us.
So next time you're asked how spicy you'd like to go with your meal, perhaps it's high time you turned things up a level. You'll be healthier for it, although it certainly won't seem like it at the time... or the next day after your morning cup of coffee, for that matter.