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NewsBites April 2012 Issue

Fiery Foods Boost Calorie Burning

That spicy kick from your favorite fiery chili may also be kick-starting your body to burn more calories. A new Purdue University review of the scientific evidence concludes that capsaicin, the compound that makes chile peppers hot, has “modest” potential for weight management. If you can’t stand the heat, there’s also good news: Capsiates, similar but non-pungent compounds found in sweet peppers, may also have “thermogenic” effects, boosting calorie burning. The review found consistent evidence that the pepper compounds promote thermogenesis in normal-weight individuals, helping to keep them lean. Four studies also showed similar benefits in overweight and obese people, while two studies found no effect. The reviewers noted that amounts of the pepper compounds varied widely among the studies, from 0.2 milligrams in a single meal to a blazing 33 milligrams a day for four weeks, and that other studies tested supplements rather than spicy foods.

TO LEARN MORE: Chemical Senses, February 2012; abstract at dx.doi.org/10.1093/chemse/bjr100.

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