Study links chili peppers to longer life

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A new study linking red hot chili peppers to a longer life is making the rounds. But before you start putting them in every meal, you might want to take the study with a grain of salt.

Researchers with the University of Vermont analyzed over 16,000 Americans through government data that kept tabs on them for an average of about 19 years.

The data showed the death rate for those who ate chili peppers was around 13 percent lower than people who didn't.

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Health Rankings: Bottom 15 states

36. Florida

Overall score: -0.307

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37. Missouri

Overall score: -0.338

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38. New Mexico

Overall score: -0.363

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39. Indiana

Overall score: -0.372

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40. Ohio

Overall score: -0.391

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41. Georgia

Overall score: -0.464

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42. South Carolina

Overall score: -0.531

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43. West Virginia

Overall score: -0.595

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44. Tennessee

Overall score: -0.626

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45. Kentucky

Overall score: -0.651

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46. Oklahoma

Overall score: -0.691

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47. Alabama

Overall score: -0.793

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48. Arkansas

Overall score: -0.834

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49. Louisiana

Overall score: -1.043

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50. Mississippi

Overall score: -1.123

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The researchers admit the study shows a correlation, not a cause, so we can't point to chili peppers as the sole reason people were more likely to live longer.

SEE MORE: Life Expectancy In The US Has Dropped For The First Time In Decades

Other health indicators for chili pepper eaters, as a group, were varied. They tended to eat more vegetables and have lower cholesterol, but they also tended to drink, smoke and have lower incomes.

Also, chili pepper eaters were often younger, which could skew the risk of death.

RELATED: Top 15 states in health ranking

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Health Rankings: Top 15 states
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Health Rankings: Top 15 states

15. Idaho

Overall score: 0.356

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14. Rhode Island

Overall score: 0.422

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13. New York

Overall score: 0.430

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12. Nebraska

Overall score: 0.432

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11. North Dakota

Overall score: 0.473

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10. Colorado

Overall score: 0.559

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9. New Jersey

Overall score: 0.571

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8. Utah

Overall score: 0.578

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7. Washington

Overall score: 0.582

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6. New Hampshire

Overall score: 0.696

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5. Vermont

Overall score: 0.709

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4. Minnesota

Overall score: 0.727

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3. Connecticut

Overall score: 0.747

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2. Massachusetts

Overall score: 0.760

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1. Hawaii

Overall score: 0.905

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When the researchers separated the data by cause of death, red chili peppers were less of a factor. Vascular disease was the only cause of death where the pepper's health benefits came close to being statistically significant.

Still, the researchers argue the study supports Chinese research from 2015 that linked spicy foods to a lower risk of death.

Other experimental research has found the capsaicin in spicy foods can help fight obesity, cancer and inflammation.

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