Capsaicin burns up to 300 up to 300 calories in 24 hours

If you like your chili peppers flaming hot, you may be in for a slimming surprise.

A group of researchers at the University of Wyoming found evidence that capsaicin may help in the fight against obesity. Capsaicin is the component that gives chili peppers their heat. It works  by stimulating energy-burning and turning white fat to brown fat.

Their findings, based on a study in mice, are being presented this week at the annual meeting of the Biophysical Society in Baltimore.

So what is brown fat, and why do you want it?

“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,” explained Dr. Baskaran Thyagarajan.

Simply put, the more brown fat you have, the more calories you burn.

Once it is activated, brown fat can burn up to 300 calories in 24 hours, Labros Sidossis, a professor of internal medicine in the division of geriatric medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, told CBS News.

And that’s not all. Studies show brown fat may improve insulin sensitivity while also helping to control blood sugar and lowering your risk of diabetes and obesity.

Enter capsaicin. Through trials with mice, the laboratory found that a relatively low percentage (.01) of capsaicin in the total high-fat diet prevented weight gain.

The lab theorizes that dietary capsaicin “induces ‘browning’ of white fat and stimulates thermogenesis,” or energy burning.

As adults, we don’t have very much of this helpful brown fat in our bodies. Deposits are limited to small areas in the neck and upper back. Previous research has shown that expanding helpful brown fat is possible through exposing ourselves to colder temperatures for a few weeks. And, now, chili peppers may be the next big thing to kick up brown fat growth.

Other benefits of chili peppers are being investigated; some think they might even fight cancer.

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