A new paper in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests that black pepper has the power to fight fat and may help treat obesity. But can this common kitchen spice really help you whittle your waist?
Spicy foods can fire up your metabolism
It’s true that hot spices have been shown to stoke the metabolic fires but chowing down on habanero peppers and ginger root isn’t the answer to your weight loss woes — unless your spicy consumption coincides with you consuming fewer calories, too. The effects of hot foods on metabolism are notable but not miraculous.
What about black pepper?
The recent research on black pepper and body fat does suggest the spice can stop the body from forming new fat cells. Apparently an ingredient in black pepper called piperine is the mechanism behind fighting fat. However, the studies aren’t profound because they were done on cells (from mice) grown in a petri dish. In addition, the effects were achieved only with piperine levels that were 100 times higher than any human could reasonably ingest.
The bottom line on spices
If you love spice and heat in your meals, by all means, season it up. But don’t rely on hot foods to slim you down. Further, despite the lure of spice-laden supplements and their claims of being miracle weight loss aids, your budget would be best spent on more healthy foods (fresh produce, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds) and on fewer high-calorie, nutrient-devoid foods (processed fare, low-fiber foods, and high-sugar treats).