Chilli compounds backed for weight loss, but are no ‘magic bullet’ for industry

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Chilli compounds backed for weight loss

Related tags Weight management Capsaicin functional beverage beverage

Capsinoids and capsaicinoids from chili peppers will not provide industry with a ‘magic bullet’ for weight loss, however there is good evidence to back their use in weight management programmes and products, says a new review.

The study – published in Appetite​ – systematically reviewed research investigating the potential benefits of capsinoid  and capsaicinoid compounds, from chilli peppers, in relation to weight management.

Led by Emma Derbyshire of Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, the team reviewed the findings of 20 clinical trials, involving more than 550 participants. They found that consumption of capsaicinoids was associated with increases in energy expenditure of approximately 50 kcal per day.

“On the whole, there is evidence that capsaicinoids and capsinoids can play an active role in increasing energy expenditure,”​ reveal Derbyshire and her team.

“While capsaicinoids are not a magic bullet for weight loss, the evidence is that they could play a beneficial role, as part of a weight management program,”​ note the researchers, who reveal that such an increase in energy expenditure “would produce clinically significant levels of weight loss in 1–2 years,.”

The researchers added that regular consumption also significantly reduced abdominal adipose tissue levels and reduced appetite and energy intake.

“Though effects observed in this body of work are subtle, they should not be interpreted as insignificant,”​ says Derbyshire. “Small dietary changes exert small effects on energy balance, but cumulatively, they may contribute to weight loss or maintenance.”

Chilli benefit

Capsinoids and capsaicinoids are a group of molecules unique to chilli peppers. They are responsible for the fruit’s pungent sensation and are the key compounds that give chilli peppers their ‘heat’.

Much research has focused on the purported benefits of capsaicinoid compounds, such as capsaicin, for weight management.

More recently, a number of potential health benefits of consuming the chilli compounds have been investigated, with sugegstions that capsaicinoids have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Study details

The review systematically evaluated 20 clinical research studies, with data from 563 people, in order to assess whether regular ingestion of capsaicinoid and capsinoid compounds could have a potential role in weight management strategies.

“We reviewed randomised, control trials in humans, which investigated capsaicinoid and capsinoid compounds’ effects on energy expenditure, lipid oxidation and appetite,”​ note the authors, who add that the review assesses the quality and weight of evidence in addition to the efficacy of the different compounds.

“There is evidence that capsaicinoids and their sister compounds, capsinoids could play a beneficial role in weight management,”​ said the researchers, who also noted the potential role of the compounds in promoting lipid oxidation.

However, the team noted that the effects on appetite are ‘less clear’.

“Capsaicinoids and capsinoids may have a role to play in weight management problems, alongside the use of diet and exercise but clearly longer, well-designed trials are needed,”​ they concluded.

Derbyshire added that further clarification is also needed in terms of the specific ‘doses’ needed to yield the desired health benefits.

Source: Appetite
Volume 59, Issue 2​, Pages 341–348, doi : 10.1016/j.appet.2012.05.015
"Capsaicinoids and capsinoids. A potential role for weight management? A systematic review of the evidence"
Authors: Stephen Whiting, Emma Derbyshire, B.K. Tiwari

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