Can spicy foods lead to weight loss?

BY NADINE WILSON All Woman writer

Monday, May 14, 2012

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ARE you one of those persons who like your food really hot? Well, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as according to some experts, a dash of cayenne pepper or other fiery spices can fuel your metabolism so you can shed the pounds faster.

The extent of the weight loss one can experience through consuming peppery dishes is still varied, but studies continue to show that it’s a key ingredient in helping to get rid of the bulk.

"Some spicy foods contribute to weight loss, but some of them don’t," explained nutritionist and general practitioner Dr Andre McDonald.

Spicy foods are thought to help weight loss in a number of ways. Firstly, capsaicin, the compound which gives spices like chilli and cayenne peppers their heat, not only burns your tongue, but it really turns up the heat in your body as well. This thermogenetic effect in turn helps to speed up the metabolic rate, thereby increasing the speed at which fat is burned.

Spicy ingredients such as black pepper, ginger and chilli pepper are also considered mild appetite suppressants, as they change your desire to eat. Spicy foods were also found to make people feel more full, thereby resulting in them eating less food. The slimming effects of spicy foods have led to the formulation of varying diets with pepper being a main ingredient. One of the more common is the maple syrup diet; a mere starvation regime which has been adopted by those desperate to lose weight in a short time span. Persons on this diet usually consume a mixture of maple syrup, mixed with freshly squeezed lemons and cayenne pepper or ginger for a period of time in hopes of seeing results.

The combination when consumed is eye watering to say the least, but this has not prevented even the rich and famous from gulping down this concoction in the hopes of getting rid of their unwanted pounds. Singer /actress Beyonce Knowles experienced widespread criticism when she lost 20 pounds in no time on the maple syrup diet or the ‘master cleanse diet’ as it is sometimes called, while preparing for her part in Dreamgirls.

The capsaicin in spicy food is believed to also have other health benefits. It was shown to prevent blood clots by thinning out the blood and helps to relieve heartburn.

Adding spices to your vegetables can improve their taste as well. However, as Dr McDonald warns, "Some spicy foods are fatty too and this might contribute to weight gain."

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