Although chili peppers have great culinary value, they are also valued for medicinal benefits. Capsaicin, a compound responsible for the hotness of many peppers, is thought to increase the rate at which the body burns fat, ease pain, lower cholesterol and support healthy heart function. The compound is especially studied for its ability to aid in weight loss, where researchers from Purdue University in Indiana found that capsaicin reduces hunger and increases energy expenditure.
The study involved 25 adults at a healthy weight and was conducted over a 6 week period. Using ground up cayenne red pepper – something anyone can purchase at their local super market (as with any food, organic is the best option), the researchers measured capsaicin’s role in weight loss.
They found that red pepper consumption ignited a greater natural energy expenditure, “maximizes the digestive process”, and caused people to feel less hungry overall – particularly for fatty, sweet, and salty foods.
“We found that consuming red pepper can help manage appetite and burn more calories after a meal, especially for individuals who do not consume the spice regularly,” said Professor Richard Mattes. “That burn in your mouth is responsible for that effect…It turns out you get a more robust effect if you include the sensory part because the burn contributes to a rise in body temperature, energy expenditure and appetite control.”
Another study revealed that adding capsaicin to the diet actually helps to reduce the effect of consumed dietary fat. All three groups of rats had gained weight. However, the rats who received capsaicin in addition to a high-fat diet, gained 8 percent less than the rats that didn’t receive the capsaicin. As a matter of fact, those receiving capsaicin and given the high-fat diet gained only a little more weight than the rats on a completely normal diet.
Chili Pepper Origin
Chili peppers are thought to have originated in Mexico around 7,000 BC. The fiery “hotness” of these pretty little peppers comes from capsaicin, which is located on the inside of the fruit. While many people think that it is the seeds that produce the heat in a pepper, the heat actually comes from the glands within the fruit, with the hottest part being the placenta that attaches the seed to the pod.
How to Use Hot Peppers
Although capsaicin is available in capsule form, it seems that consuming the actual pepper is more effective than taking a a capsule. Integrating chili peppers into your everyday meals is not as difficult as it might seem. Try sprinkling hot peppers in meats, soups or even on roasted vegetables. Adding a little bit of capsaicin will not make a dish overly hot for those that are sensitive, but will pack a powerful punch when it comes to boosting health and losing weight.