Capsaicin, the compound gives red chilli pepper its heat, may exert its benefits at the protein level to boost fat burning and energy production, says new research. Obese rats supplemented with capsaicin had 8 per cent less body weight than control animals, and displayed changes in the levels of 20 proteins associated with obesity, according to findings published in the Journal of Proteome Research.
“These changes provide valuable new molecular insights into the mechanism of the anti-obesity effects of capsaicin,” report researchers from Daegu University in Korea. “Thus, we believe that the findings presented here open new insights into the study and potential treatments for this pathology.”
The research taps into the burgeoning weight loss and management market, estimated to already be worth $7bn (€5.2bn) globally. With 50 per cent of Europeans and 62 per cent of Americans classed as overweight, the food industry is waking up to the potential of products for weight loss and management.
The slimming ingredients market can be divided into five groups based on the mechanisms of action - boosting fat burning/ thermogenesis, inhibiting protein breakdown, suppressing appetite/ boosting satiety (feeling of fullness), blocking fat absorption, and regulating mood (linked to food consumption).
Capsaicin is reported to boost heat generation by the body, which means people burn more energy. A laboratory study from the National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan, found that capsaicin may inhibit the growth of fat cells (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2007, Vol. 55, pp. 1730-1736), while a human study with capsaicin, in combination with green tea extracts, found that (Clinical Nutrition, doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2009.01.010) an alternative mode of action with promotion of the feeling of fullness and sustained satiety.
The new data suggests that the compound may exert its benefits by triggering certain beneficial protein changes in the body.
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