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Capsaicin, DCT in Hot Peppers May Aid Weight Loss


Capsaicin, the substance in hot peppers that adds spice, has long been known to cause a temporary increase in body temperature. Scientists from UCLA Center for Human Nutrition have found a less-spicy version of the compound that may offer the same benefit without the “burn”. And both compounds may have potential for increasing metabolism that can lead to weight loss.

In a study led by David Heber, Professor of Medicine and Public Health, researchers placed 35 men and women on a very low-calorie liquid meal replacement product for 28 days. The group was then divided into two. One group received a supplement containing dihydrocapsiate, a milder version of capsaicin, and the second group given a placebo.

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The researchers found that energy expenditure of the group consuming DCT was almost double that of the group taking the placebo. They were able to show that DCT significantly increased fat oxidation, which causes the body to use more fat for fuel.

The thermic effect of food is the energy expended by the body for the process of digestion and metabolism of the food we eat. Spicy foods are thought to further increase metabolic rate by about 8% by increasing body temperature. The effect doesn’t last long, and, in this study, was only found immediately after consuming the supplement.

However, adding hot peppers to foods does have other nutritional benefits as well. They are low in calories (about 25-30 per serving) and contain about 3 grams of fiber, which can help increase satiety, causing you to eat less. Peppers are also good sources of many vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, potassium, and manganese.

The research was presented April 27 at the Experimental Biology 2010 meeting in Anaheim CA as part of the scientific program of the American Society for Nutrition.