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The weight-loss food that burns extra calories

Indian woman in sari dress groceries shopping

A study at the University of Wyoming shows that an ingredient in a common food may induce your body to burn off extra calories and eliminate harmful body fat.

The research shows that the natural chemical capsaicin, contained in chili peppers, can potentially stimulate heightened thermogenesis (calorie-burning) while helping to keep your weight down and limit the health difficulties caused by high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

According to the scientists, capsaicin favors the formation and metabolic activity of brown fat, which burns calories, over the formation of white fat, which merely stores calories as extra fat tissue.

“Obesity is caused by an imbalance between calorie intake and energy dissipation,” says researcher Vivek Krishnan. “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. Eating calorie-rich food and a lack of physical activity cause an imbalance in metabolism that leads to obesity.”

But the analysis at Wyoming shows that capsaicin can reduce weight by stimulating brown fat to burn off calories – even if you don’t eat less food.

The researchers are working on their own version of a capsaicin supplement that can help people lose weight: “We envision a nanoparticle-based sustained-release formulation of capsaicin, which is currently under development in our laboratory,” they write. “In turn, this will advance a novel dietary supplement-based approach to prevent and treat one of the life-threatening diseases, obesity and its associated complications — in humans.”

Carl Lowe

Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.