Long used for a variety of purposes in Chinese, Japanese and Ayurvedic medicine, cayenne pepper has now been shown to act as an appetite suppressant and to burn calories.
A recent study in the journal Physiology & Behavior explained how capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot peppers can help reduce hunger and encourage calorie burning.
The six-week trial included 25 non-overweight adults, 13 of whom liked spicy food and 12 of whom did not. Participants were randomly assigned to receive a standard quantity (1 g) of red pepper, their preferred amount or no red pepper with meals. After each treatment period, the participants switched groups so they were able to try each dose.
The researchers found that cayenne increased core body temperature, energy expenditure and the number of calories burned. Additionally, preoccupation with food and cravings for fatty, salty and sweet foods generally decreased more in the infrequent users of cayenne pepper compared to those who liked the spice.
If you're not one for spicy foods, try taking a Cayenne supplement with meals. Because it acts as a stimulant, it can also be generally helpful for kick-starting digestion and warming the gut.