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Capsaicin may help fight the battle of the bulge

Capsaicin may help fight the battle of the bulge

Have you ever wondered what gives spicy veggies their bold flavor profile? Or to put
it another way, what makes hot peppers, well, hot? Well, wonder no longer.

The not-so- secret ingredient found in hot peppers is capsaicin, a naturally occurring
compound found chiefly in vegetables like jalapenos, habaneros and chili peppers.

What’s lesser known about capsaicin is that aside from perking up peppers to give
them their special piquancy, this compound has a number of health promoting
properties. And as researchers have learned, capsaicin is especially effective in
enhancing weight loss.

Increases body’s ‘good fat’ production

The evidence suggesting this comes out of the University of Wyoming. Presenting
their findings at the Biophysical Society in Baltimore in 2015, then graduate student
Vivek Krishnan and Dr. Baskaran Thyagarajan of the university’s School of
Pharmacy, discovered that capsaicin may help the body convert white fat – the bad
kind – into brown fat, the healthier variety.

“In our bodies, white fat cells store energy and brown fat cells serve as thermogenic
(heat produced by burning fat) machinery to burn stored fat,” said Krishnan, as
reported by CBS News. “Eating calorie-rich food and a lack of physical activity cause
an imbalance in metabolism that leads to obesity.”

Labros Sidossis, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Medical
Branch in Galveston, told CBS News that once this conversion process takes place,
brown fat fires up the body’s metabolism, potentially burning up to 300 additional
calories in a 24-hour period.

Capsaicin intensifies salt flavors

But another way capsaicin may be an effective weight management ingredient
comes from appetite suppression, specifically for foods that are high in sodium.

Published in the journal Hypertension earlier this year, a clinical study that involved
approximately 600 adults used capsaicin in blind taste tests to see how participants
reacted to certain flavors. The foods that the researchers had the adults try were
either salty or spicy, both containing high levels of capsaicin.

After having the participants fill out questionnaires and analyzing the urine samples
and blood pressure readings the subjects submitted to, researchers found that those
who ate spicy foods consumed less salt, averaging about 2.5 grams less per day.

Zhiming Zhu, M.D. the study’s lead author and director at the Center for
Hypertension and Metabolic Diseases at Daping Hospital in China, said that this was
made possible by capsaicin intensifying the flavor of salt, making the body less likely
to crave more.

“We found that the enjoyment of spicy food can enhance salty taste sensitivity by
modifying the salty taste in the brain,” Zhu explained, according to Prevention
Magazine.

Zhu further referenced how in brain scans of the subjects, those who ate the spicy
foods had a higher degree of activity, suggesting that capsaicin more effectively
stimulates the body’s perception of saltiness.

Nutritionists and primary care physicians have long known about the linkage
between high sodium foods and obesity, as hypertension (high blood pressure) and
weight gain are frequently associated.

Diet and exercise are the two biggest elements that influence weight levels.
Including more capsaicin in your meal planning can be a smart way to fire up your
metabolism so you can slim down.


Sources:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/chili-peppers- may-fire- up-weight- loss/

https://www.popsci.com/chili-peppers- nutrition#page-2

https://www.prevention.com/food/salt-cravings- and-spicy-
food?internal_recirc=hpblock1

http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/70/6/1291

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/chili-peppers- may-fire- up-weight- loss/

https://www.popsci.com/chili-peppers- nutrition#page-2

https://www.prevention.com/food/salt-cravings-