An anti-obesity weapon
At the recent Biophysical Society meeting, researchers from the University of Wyoming discussed the exciting properties of capsaicin, a chemical compound found in chili peppers, responsible for our taste buds' burning sensation. And no need to swallow tons of hot pepper (the ingestion of which could prove problematic for our delicate intestines…), a food supplement based on the famous molecule would play the same role: transforming bad fats into good fats.
A small reminder of the facts.
Our body has two types of fat: "fat white cells store energy, and brown fat cells cause thermogenic phenomenon (heat produced by fat burning) to burn stored fat," as Vivek Krishna sums it up. One of the researchers who signed the study.
A food supplement containing capsaicin would change the white cells into brown by raising their temperature. Tests were carried out on mice fed a fatty diet, associated with a small dose of capsaicin. Rodents did not gain weight because their metabolic activity was accelerated. Therefore, the team is working on the development of a food supplement based on the precious fat-burning molecule. Human clinical trials are expected to take place soon.
The five advantages of chili
It has anti-oxidant action. Therefore, protect (thanks in particular to flavonoids called luteolin and quercetin) our cells from damage caused by free radicals (molecules involved in cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers).
It contains vitamin E. Certain varieties of hot pepper are a source of alpha-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E. This molecule could also play a role in preventing certain cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and the disease of 'Alzheimer's.
It contains vitamin C, which contributes to healthy bones, cartilage, teeth, and gums. It also protects against infections, accelerates healing, and promotes iron absorption.
It contains vitamin B6. It helps in the production of red blood cells, allowing them to carry more oxygen. It also strengthens the immune system.
It contains trace elements: iron, manganese, and copper. Iron is essential for the transport of oxygen and the formation of red blood cells in the blood. It is useful for cell renewal, the production of hormones, and the manufacture of neurotransmitters. Manganese protects against damage caused by free radicals. Copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen and if it stings you, eat cheese!
Eating hot peppers can be a dangerous activity ... If you bite into them and your mouth is on fire, don't jump on your glass of water! This will not help: capsaicin, responsible for the spiciness of the pepper, therefore, is not soluble in water but fat. It is better to swallow a glass of milk, nibble some cheese, or even a teaspoon of olive oil.
Chili pepper: How do you like it?
In 1912, the American pharmacologist Wilbur Scoville took it upon himself to classify peppers from the sweetest to the most explosive by having a panel of 5 unfortunate guinea pigs taste several specimens ... Although very subjective, the Scoville scale is today hui known throughout the world!
At the bottom of the scale (with a "neutral" rating), we find the pepper: hardly any spicy, this one nevertheless belongs to the Capsicum family, like the pepper or the paprika.
Climbing the ladder, we first come across harissa (this mashed red peppers from Tunisia), then Espelette pepper (from the Basque region, of course), then white pepper and black pepper (which are both from the Piperaceae family), then cayenne pepper. We then arrive in the "critical" areas of the Scoville scale: the Carolina Reaper pepper and the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper are almost on a par with ... the self-defense tear gas bombs.