Chemicals found within chilli peppers appears to speed up the metabolism, according to research published in the journal Advances in Nutrition.
Capsaicinoids found in chilli peppers boost metabolism
The small study, comprising 40 people with an average age of 28, involved giving participants either a placebo or a supplement containing capsaicinoids, at a dose of 2 milligrams per day.
Capsaicinoids are the bioactive compounds found within chilli peppers that make them hot and are widely recognised for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Subjects fasted for 4 hours and avoided exercise for 12 hours prior to consuming a measured calorie meal. The participants were then given either the capsaicinoids supplement or a placebo. The scientists then recorded any boost in metabolism by measured the resting energy expenditure at baseline and at 1, 2 or 3 hours after the meal. This in turn allowed the scientists to calculate the calories burned by the participants.
The results showed that those who consumed the supplement burnt an additional 122 kilocalories a day (kcal/d) compared to the placebo group.
The capsaicinoids boosted metabolism (this is defined as energy expenditure at resting state) by 6% compared with the control, it also increased fat oxidation and reduced appetite without raising the subjects' heart rate.
The first author of the study, Yue Deng commented:
"The innovation of the study is to validate the effectiveness of capsaicinoids during the first real-time tracking of an individual's metabolism. It is important to measure the metabolism change with intake of the capsaicinoids, which is the most straightforward way to tell people that actually works or not."
As a next step the researchers plan to examine the effect of capsaicinoids in different population segments such as athletes, children, obese individuals and the elderly. As well as this they also plan to look at other bioactive compounds such as green tea to examine the widely believed theory that it enhances metabolic rate.
Add capsaicinoids to your diet
As well as chilli peppers cayenne pepper is also a good source of capsaicinoids so instead of popping a pill use cayenne pepper in its natural form, fresh or dried by adding it to your food. Why not try sprinkling some of the dried powder on your hard-boiled eggs at breakfast for a little heat, or mix it into a bean soup for your lunch. Chop the fresh pepper and add to your stir-fry or mix it in with your brown rice. Cayenne pepper also adds spicy heat to chili, stews, meats and vegetable dishes.
A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.