March 6, 2007 -- Capsaicin, the fiery compound in hot red peppers, may make fledging fat cells self-destruct, Taiwanese scientists report.
But don’t drown your dinner in hot pepper sauce just yet. So far, the Taiwanese team has only pitted capsaicin against fat cells in test tubes, not people.
Scientists included Gow-Chin Yen, a professor in the food science and biotechnology department at Taiwan's National Chung Hsing University.
They focused on cells called preadipocytes, which develop into fat cells. The researchers wanted to see what effect capsaicin would have on such cells.
First, they brewed a capsaicin extract in their lab. Then, they marinated preadipocytes from mice in the capsaicin extract for eight days, freshening the capsaicin extract every other day.
The preadipocytes exposed to capsaicin died before becoming fat cells, according to the study, which appears in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Looking to lose weight? The researchers aren't making diet recommendations at this point.
The basic principle of weight loss is simple -- burn more calories than you consume -- and doesn't require spicy red peppers or any other exotic ingredient.
But for many people, losing weight is anything but simple. That's why any food that could help would be hot.