Study Finds Chili Pepper Ingredient Helps Fight Fat

Posted on June 12, 2010

Chili PeppersScientists are reporting new evidence that capsaicin, the stuff that makes chili peppers hot, may cause weight loss and fight fat buildup. The scientists believe the capsaicin triggers certain beneficial protein changes in the body. The new study appears here in the ACS' monthly Journal of Proteome Research.

Laboratory studies have hinted that capsaicin may help fight obesity by decreasing calorie intake, shrinking fat tissue, and lowering fat levels in the blood. Nobody, however, yet knows exactly how capsaicin might trigger such beneficial effects.

In an effort to find out, the scientists fed high-fat diets with or without capsaicin to lab rats used to study obesity. The capsaicin-treated rats lost 8 percent of their body weight and showed changes in levels of at least 20 key proteins found in fat. The altered proteins work to break down fats.

"These changes provide valuable new molecular insights into the mechanism of the antiobesity effects of capsaicin," the scientists say.

Capsaicin is already used in capsaicin creams, which help fight arthritis pain. The latest research could potentially lead to new drugs to fight obesity.

Photo: Stephen Ausmus/USDA