Posted September 12, 2005 by Nick Lindauer in Hot Sauce News

Dr. needs to do some research

From the National Telegraph
DEAR DR. BLONZ: I am typing this at a coffee bar with a group of friends, and we are having a discussion about hot peppers. Irrespective of whether there is any logic to it, the prevailing opinion here is that eating hot food such as cayenne, jalapeno, habanero or serrano peppers will increase your thermal metabolic temperature, and this will cause you to burn calories (fat) more rapidly.

Have you heard anything like that? If so, please respond before I burn the lining out of my intestines.

– S.Q., Seattle
DEAR S.Q.: Capsicum is the botanical family that peppers belong to, and capsaicin (cap-SAY-sin) is the key compound in peppers that is responsible for their fiery taste. Hot peppers have been used for their curative properties by a number of ancient cultures, and capsaicin is now being investigated to see how it works.

There are a number of encouraging results, many involving some aspect of the way capsaicin binds with nerve receptors. I am unaware, however, of any research that hints that capsaicin might have an ability to encourage the body to burn fat more rapidly. Any perspiration you might experience when you eat fiery hot, spicy foods does not come as a result of “burning” large quantities of calories, whether they come from fat, carbohydrate or protein. If you have been eating those hot, hot foods, I hope you’ve been doing so because you enjoy like the taste.

Your comments raise a good point, namely that peppers should be handled with caution. They contain an oil-based resin that can be quite irritating, if not downright dangerous, to eyes, mucous membranes and sensitive skin. Keep in mind that capsaicin serves as a base for many self-defense sprays.

Warnings aside, peppers come in a wide variety of flavors, much more than simply hot and not hot, and they make wonderful additions to many dishes. There are numerous cookbooks and an entire magazine and Web site (www.chilepepper.com) devoted their culinary uses.

It is well known that eating spicy foods will increase your endorphin production and raise your metabolism (albiet marginally). Also, eating hot foods acts as an appetite surpressant (if you don’t consume ice cream to cool the burn).

Nick Lindauer

The Original Hot Sauce Blog