If you’re one of those people who insist that a dish has no flavor unless there’s hot sauce on it, then you might actually be on to something big. Big like the Fountain of Youth.
A new study from the University of Vermont, which collected data from more than 16,000 people over 23 years (that's a lot of hot sauce), found that consumption of red hot chili peppers (no, not the band) is associated with a 13 percent reduction in total mortality—primarily in heart-disease- and stroke-related deaths.
And get this: Even though a common denominator among red chili pepper consumers included folks who drank more alcohol and smoked more cigarettes, they still lived longer on average.
But before you dive headfirst into the party-hard lifestyle, know that researchers are still trying to fully understand their findings. Their inkling? The lower mortality rate has something to do with a chemical called capsaicin. Found in many other spicy foods (like cayenne pepper, jalapeños and habanero chilis), its antimicrobial properties have typically been linked to mechanisms that decrease obesity and moderate blood flow. Not bad, capsaicin, not bad.