Go on, make your order extra spicy.
A new study presented at the Biophysical Society's 59th Annual Meeting in Baltimore revealed that capsaicin -- the ingredient in chili peppers that make them spicy -- can help prevent weight gain in mice fed a high-fat diet.
This may be a promising finding for obese people, who make up about one third of the world's population. The study's researchers at the University of Wyoming suggest that an ingredient in chili peppers, capsaicin, may help obese people manage their weight by boosting metabolism. What's more, the capsaicin stimulates the body to burn energy and create heat, and could induce white fat cells, the bad kind of fat, to become "good" brown fat cells.
"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," Vivek Krishnan, a graduate student who is part of the research group said in a statement. "Eating calorie-rich food and a lack of physical activity cause an imbalance in metabolism that leads to obesity."
The researchers don't suggest ingesting loads of chili peppers in conjunction with a plate of French fries, but they are optimistic about capsaicin being a viable weight loss aid. The group is looking to develop a natural dietary supplement to help treat obesity and its complications.
This hot fruit is often sourced for healthy remedies beyond weight management: The spice has been used to ease sinus problems and congestion and as a pain reliever, too. It's quite a polarizing food: Some are terribly sensitive to the fiery heat, while others won't eat a meal without it. Studies show that the more people are exposed to the taste, the more they tend to like it.