Just enjoy your spicy food without worrying about the calories. A new study says chili pepper can help fight obesity.
Scientists in US have identified a chemical compound in chili peppers which can neutralize the negative impact of a high-fat diet and prevent weight gain without restricting food intake.
Experiments conducted on mice showed that supplementing capsaicin along with a high-fat-diet diet stimulated energy metabolism and protected against a series of medical conditions, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.
"Obesity is caused by an imbalance between calorie intake and energy dissipation," Vivek Krishnan, a graduate student working in the University of Wyoming's School of Pharmacy, said in a news release. "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."
The ingredient, according to Krishnan, act as a "chief 'agonist' (initiator of a response) of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) channel protein" to "suppresses high-fat-diet-induced obesity."
Researchers found that intake of 0.01 percent of capsaicin along with a high fat diet increased metabolic activity and energy expenditure in wild type mice. The authors couldn't find any such results in the rodents which genetically lacked TRPV1.
Findings of the study were presented at the Biophysical Society Annual Meeting, Baltimore in Maryland on 8 February, Sunday.
Capsaicin is primarily used to relieve pain. Data from Mayo Clinic shows that the ingredient is available in different forms like lotion, cream or gel to get relief from shingles, minor pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis; muscle sprains and strains.
Moreover, the compound has also been shown promising against protecting women against assaulters. In September 2013, an Indian pharmacist Imran Khan designed a protective device named "Sting Bee Silver Ring," based on the capsaicin to help women defend themselves during an assault. The same chemical is also used in pepper sprays.