Washington: Hot peppers contain a substance called capsaicin that not only adds spice to our food but can actually cause our body to heat up. Evidence suggests that the heat generating power of peppers can help shed those extra inches.
Researchers assume that plants evolved to contain capsaicin because it protected them from being eaten by insects and other pesky predators.
But they are learning that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to peppers.
In fact, there is growing evidence that the body heat generating power of peppers might even lend a hand in our quest to lose those extra inches accumulating around our waistline.
And fortunately for those of us who don`t eat hot peppers, a version of capsaicin called dihydrocapsiate (DCT) could have the same benefits as peppers without the pungency.
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) nutritionists set out to document its ability to increase heat production in human subjects who were on a weight-loss diet.
Led by David Heber, professor of medicine and public health, they recruited men and women who were willing to consume a very low-calorie liquid meal replacement product for 28 days.
The researchers then randomised the subjects to take either placebo pills or supplements containing the non-burning DCT pepper.
Two dosage levels of DCT were tested. At the beginning and end of the study, body weight and body fat were assessed, and the researchers determined energy expenditure (heat production) in each subject after he or she consumed one serving of the test meal.
Their data provided convincing evidence that, at least for several hours after the test meal was consumed, energy expenditure was significantly increased in the group consuming the highest amount of DCT.
In fact, it was almost double that of the placebo group. This suggests that eating this pepper-derived substance that doesn`t burn can have the same potential benefit as hot peppers at least in part by increasing food-induced heat production, said a UCLA release.
They were also able to show that DCT significantly increased fat oxidation, pushing the body to use more fat as fuel. This may help people lose weight when they consume a low-calorie diet by increasing metabolism.
Heber and his team presented their results at the Experimental Biology 2010 meeting in Anaheim, California.