Spicy Food May Boost Metabolism

A little spice may ramp up calorie burning, new research suggests.

ByABC News
August 12, 2011, 12:13 PM

Aug. 12, 2011— -- Spicing up dinner may have metabolic benefits, particularly when it comes to insulin and triglyceride levels, a small study showed.

Adding a combination of various spices -- including turmeric, cinnamon, rosemary, oregano, garlic powder, and paprika -- to a plain meal significantly reduced postprandial insulin and triglyceride levels, Sheila West of Penn State University and colleagues reported online in the Journal of Nutrition.

"Antioxidants like spices may be important in reducing oxidative stress and thus reducing the risk of chronic disease," West said in a statement.

Read this story on www.medpagetoday.com.

Spices have shown antioxidant properties in vitro, and they have high antioxidant activity.

There's been much interest in the potential of dietary antioxidants to moderate oxidative stress in humans, but data are limited on the actual effects, the researchers said.

So they investigated whether adding a single, large dose (14 g) of a high-antioxidant spice blend to a 1,200-calorie meal had any effects on markers of antioxidant activity and metabolism. That spice dose is equivalent to the amount of antioxidants in five ounces of red wine or 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate, they said.

They enrolled six healthy but overweight men ages 30 to 65 in a crossover trial. First the men ate a control meal consisting of coconut chicken, a white rice dish, cheese bread, and a dessert biscuit.After at least a week, the men ate a second, spicy meal, in which the chicken was transformed into chicken curry, with a side of Italian herb bread and a cinnamon biscuit.

West and colleagues sampled participants' blood before each meal and every 30 minutes for almost four hours afterward.

They found that the addition of spices significantly reduced insulin and triglyceride responses to the meal, although there were no effects on glucose.

Compared with the plain meal, insulin levels fell 21 percent and triglyceride levels dropped 31 percent after the spicy meal.