Consuming capsaicin, found in cayenne pepper, may encourage your body to use more fat as fuel, found a study by David Heber of the University of California Los Angeles Center for Human Nutrition. Capsaicin is the component of cayenne pepper that causes your body to heat up. Cayenne pepper, also known as red pepper, is commonly found as a hot and spicy powder made from chili peppers.
Cayenne pepper is available year round. The peppers can grow to 12 inches long, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation -- BBC. In addition to capsaicin, cayenne pepper is also a good source of vitamins A, B6, C and K, as well as manganese and dietary fiber.
In addition to influencing fat burning, capsaicin encourages your body to increase energy expenditure, or burn calories, according to the Heber study. An appetizer with capsaicin may also cause you to eat fewer total calories during your meal, found a 1999 study of Caucasian males published in the "British Journal of Nutrition" by Mayumi Yoshioka and colleagues. Capsaicin may also decrease intake of fat.
Capsaicin may decrease body fat by evoking catecholamine secretion from the adrenal medulla, according to a 1986 study published by T. Kawada and colleagues in the "Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine." Catecholamine is a hormone released in response to stress. Secretion may occur because of activation of the central nervous system, found a 1988 study published by T. Watanabe and colleagues in the "American Journal of Physiology."
Add cayenne pepper to Mexican dishes. Use in meat marinades, or sprinkle on fish and chicken. Add to dips, gravy or cheese fondue. Use in omelettes. Try cayenne pepper in chili, curries or soups. You can also get cayenne pepper from hot sauce, curry powder and ginger ale.
Use cayenne pepper in moderation. A little cayenne pepper goes a long way.Start with a small amount to see how it affects you. If pepper burns your mouth, don't gulp down water, which simply spreads the oils around. Try drinking milk or eating dairy products instead. Bread may also help.
- Science Daily: Peppers May Increase Energy Expenditure in People Trying to Lose Weight
- Cambridge Journals: Effects of Red Pepper on Appetite and Energy Intake
- PubMed.gov: Capsaicin-Induced Beta-Adrenergic Action on Energy Metabolism in Rats: Influence of Capsaicin on Oxygen Consumption, The Respiratory Quotient, and Substrate Utilization.
- American Journal of Physiology -- Endocrinology and Metabolism:" Adrenal Sympathetic Efferent Nerve and Catecholamine Secretion Excitation Caused by Capsaicin in Rats
- BBC: Cayenne Pepper Recipes and Information
- ErmakovaElena/iStock/Getty Images