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Green tea, capsaicin affect weight loss

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Sunday April 26, 2009 (foodconsumer.org) -- Capsaicin, the ingredient responsible for the heat in red peppers, may help those trying to lose weight when combined with green tea and other bioactive ingredients, a new study suggests. The study examined how green tea, capsaicin and "CH-19," an ingredient in red peppers, affect the intake of food throughout the day. Researchers found that a combination of green tea and capsaicin reduced energy intake, or the need to eat, when positive energy balance (consuming more calories than one burns) was maintained.

The researchers chose twenty-seven subjects with a median age of twenty-seven to measure the effect capsaicin, green tea, CH-19, a combination of capsaicin and green tea, and placebo had on body weight, heart rate, energy consumption and appetite over a period of six weeks. During these six weeks, the patients were randomly assigned three weeks each of positive and negative energy balance. The subjects had an average body mass index (one's weight divided by the square of one's height) of 22.2kg/m2.

The study, titled "Effects of capsaicin, green tea and CH-19 sweet pepper on appetite and energy intake in humans in negative and positive energy balance," concluded that "no significant interactions affecting energy intake were found. CH-19 sweet pepper, and capsaicin + green tea significantly decreased energy intake during positive energy balance." Furthermore, the researchers stated that the ingredients tested "may be helpful in reducing energy intake … and may support body weight loss by relatively sustaining and suppressing hunger."

However, the researchers also found that the effects of capsaicin can be ignored over a long period of time, and actually increase one's enjoyment of food when consumed in small doses. The study stressed the "synergism of bioactive ingredients is of importance," meaning that the ingredients work well with each other to produce a greater end. Therefore, they concluded that the effects of CH-19 and green tea should be studied. They suggested that a small dose of capsaicin combined with green tea and CH-19 would be ideal.

In explaining the effect of green tea on metabolism, researchers pointed to the appetite suppressing effects of EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) and caffeine. They found that thermogenic (heat conducting) foods have an effect on metabolism.

The study was led by Professor Margriet Westerterp-Plantenga from Maastricht University in partnership with H.C. Reinbach, A. Smeets, T. Martinussen and P. Møller. It is credited to the Department of Food Science, University of Copenhagen; the Department of Human Biology, Maastricht University; and the Department of Natural Sciences, University of Copenhagen. It is available in the journal "Clinical Nutrition."

(By Will Levine, and edited by Heather Kelley)

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