Does Red Pepper Promote Weight Loss?
Do you know about red pepper, which has so far been regarded as an ingredient to add flavor to multiple cuisines world over? Did you know that it acts as an effective check on body weight?
Red pepper’s body heat generating power, produced by its active component known as capsaicin, works actively against those extra pounds hanging around your belly. And if you are worried about the burning sensation caused by hot peppers, then worry not, as there is a non-burning variety of capsaicin, known as dihydrocapsiate. You can derive the same benefits of red pepper from dihydrocapsiate without having to bear the pungency.
Red Pepper, Cayenne, or Capsicum?
Also known as cayenne or capsicum, hot red pepper is native to Central and South America, which soon became an essential culinary ingredient and a preservative in Africa and Asia. Shortly it was realized that cayenne possessed medicinal value, so it began to be used as a painkiller and in the treatment of arthritis, asthma, indigestion, sore throat, cancer, and even respiratory and cardiovascular ailments.
Obesity has reached epidemic proportions, with more than 300 million obese people spread throughout the globe. Obesity statistics from major countries in all continents—except Africa, South America and Antarctica—show that collectively in these countries one every seven persons is obese, having a Body Mass Index over 30. Studies have revealed that obese people are more vulnerable to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoarthritis, hypertension, and even cancer. Drastic changes in behavioral patterns, such as an increase in sedentary attitude, have added to the growing number of obese people throughout the world. Since 1980, the obesity rates seem to have risen three-fold to the point where today one-third of the American population is obese.
Now there is a good piece of news for those of you who are troubled by those extra pounds. Scientific studies carried out during the last 15 years convincingly suggest that capsaicin helps in weight loss and halts formation of fat tissue. This has resulted in the birth of numerous red-pepper-containing diet pill formulations that claim to effectively assist dieters in their weight loss efforts, side effect-free.
Red Pepper Reduces Appetite
Back in the late nineties, two studies were carried out to find whether red pepper had any influence on the human feeding behavior and caloric intake.
The first study was conducted on 13 Japanese women who were offered a breakfast either with or without 10g of red pepper. When 3 hours later, at lunchtime, they were exposed to a second meal, those who had eaten the red pepper-containing food in the morning reported significantly reduced desire to eat and as a result consumed less food—mainly less protein and fat.
The second study involved 10 Caucasian men. They were given an appetizer with or without 6g of red pepper right before lunchtime. They were subsequently asked to proceed to lunch and eat as much as they wanted, until they felt full. Those who consumed the red pepper-containing appetizer consumed less food not only at the lunch that immediately followed the appetizer, but also at the snack offered 3 hours later, in the afternoon.
These two studies show that the appetite suppressing effect of red pepper begins soon after it has been consumed and lasts for several hours thereafter.
A few years later, another study was conducted on 12 men and 12 women, to assess the effect of red pepper on human appetite. Before each meal, the participants were given 0.9g of red pepper or a placebo, in tomato juice for two consecutive days. During these two days, red pepper-women consumed 14% fewer calories than placebo-women, and red pepper-men consumed 16% fewer calories than placebo-men.