Good news for those who like it hot: A Purdue University study found eating red pepper can help both decrease hunger and speed up metabolism. Adding just one gram, or half a teaspoon, of ordinary dried, ground cayenne pepper to a meal will do.
Red pepper capsules, however, won’t produce the same results, because you don’t get that “burn in your mouth,” researcher Richard Mattes, a Purdue foods and nutrition professor, said. And it’s the burn that contributes to “a rise in body temperature, energy expenditure and appetite control.”
Red pepper’s effects proved especially strong for those who didn’t eat the spice regularly. Consuming red pepper helped study participants in general burn more calories — but the appetite-suppression effects occurred mostly in those who at red pepper less. This suggests that “when the stimulus is unfamiliar it has a greater effect,” said Mattes. “The finding… requires further study to determine how long it will be effective and how to adjust the diet to improve continuous effectiveness.”
Want to feel the burn? Check out these recipes: