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Chili peppers have been revered for centuries for their culinary richness as well as their medicinal benefits. But did you know that they can also help you lose weight?
In the past, studies have found that chilies increase thermogenesis or heat production that may lead to weight loss.
Early laboratory studies focused on capsaicin, the substance that gives chili peppers their heat. It was suggested that capsaicin may help fight obesity by decreasing calorie intake, shrinking fat tissue, and lowering fat levels in the blood.
Researchers in Korea investigating the link between weight loss and capsaicin have found solid support for it.
In their study, they divided lab rats into three groups and fed one group a normal diet. Another group ate a high-fat diet with capsaicin and the final group ate a high-fat diet without capsaicin. At the end of two months, all of the rats had gained weight, but the capsaicin group on the high-fat diet gained 8 percent less than the rats that didn't get the capsaicin.
In fact, even though the capsaicin rats were on a high-fat diet, they hardly gained any more weight than rats on a normal diet. How did they do it?
In the study published in the Journal of Proteome Research the Korean scientists identified certain beneficial changes in proteins that are triggered by capsaicin. It up-regulated certain genes and down-regulated other genes to mitigate the effects of the high-fat diet. The researchers concluded "that capsaicin can have a significant inhibitory effect against fat accumulation."
Where do you get capsaicin?
The word capsaicin comes from the Latin name "Capsicum" given to the chili pepper family of plants. The more capsaicin a pepper contains, the hotter it is. The hottest varieties include habañero, Scotch bonnet, jalapeños, Anaheim, cayenne, chipotle and ancho. Ground chilies are used to make chili powder, cayenne powder and paprika.
Chili peppers have a long resume of health benefits. For example, capsaicin has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, supporting heart health.
Chilies have also been found to be beneficial to diabetics. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was found that meals containing chili peppers reduce the amount of insulin required to lower blood sugar, and that insulin requirements fall even lower when chilies are a regular part of the diet.
A distinguished Philadelphia surgeon used to advise his patients to eat hot peppers to prevent catching a cold. An old wives' tale or good medicine? Good advice.
Capsaicin stimulates secretions that help clear mucus from congestion in the nose or lungs. In addition, red peppers are high in vitamin A which boosts immunity by keeping mucous membranes in the nose, lungs, intestines and urinary tract free from infection.
So spice up your life with chili peppers for weight control and good health.