An episode of the Dr. Oz show presented "7 Belly Blasters" which included a claim that eating hot pepper jelly can boost your metabolism. Is this true?
Hot Pepper Jelly Claim
During a 2013 episode of the Dr. Oz Show entitled “Belly-Fat Myths!”, there was a segment called “7 Belly Blasters That Really Work” in which Dr. Oz suggested introducing hot pepper jelly into your diet in order to speed up metabolism. He stated the following regarding the product:
This stuff is a brand new way to ignite your metabolism. So for about half an hour after you eat this you can increase your metabolism not just by a little bit but by a whopping 20 percent. And that’s without doing anything else. I’m talking about doing running or jogging or weight lifting or anything else. Big benefit, small little change in your behavior. So I want you to get two tablespoonfuls of hot pepper jelly. You’re gonna put it on either on your English muffin if that’s going to have in the morning. If you have eggs – which is a good idea by the way – that’s fine. This stuff costs about 5 bucks.
During the show, a graphic displayed the following tips regarding hot pepper jelly:
- Speeds metabolism 20%
- 2 tbsp every morning
- $5 supermarkets & online
Although the television segment did not elaborate as to why it is believed hot pepper jelly may boost metabolism, the Dr. Oz website included the following statement, “This condiment is packed with capsaicin, a chemical that puts the kick in peppers and speeds metabolism up to 20% for 30 minutes after you eat it.“
Capsaicin is a compound found in peppers which imparts the hot sensation when they are eaten. Some researchers believe the health benefits of capsaicin include increased metabolism, decreased weight gain (as opposed to weight loss), decreased appetite, and possibly even anti-cancer properties. Topical creams and patches containing capsaicin for pain relief are also common.
In a WebMD article on hot peppers and metabolism, an experiment by Dr. David Heber and colleagues from the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) is featured in which a synthetic compound similar to capsaicin (called dihydrocapsiate or DCT) was studied. The experiment lasted four weeks and involved obese volunteers who ingested DCT with a test meal. Results show that the study participants taking the DCT burned an additional 100-200 calories per day.
Dr. Heber referred to the metabolism boost from DCT as a “modest effect” which may be similar to that of green tea or caffeine. Although consuming capsaicin over time may speed up metabolism slightly, it should not be considered a miracle cure for obesity. Remember that one pound of fat is approximately 3500 calories, and burning an extra 100-200 each day with capsaicin is not an all-inclusive weight-loss resolution.
Research suggests many health benefits to consuming peppers, which would include hot pepper jelly. It appears in this case, however, that the potential weight-loss benefits of hot pepper jelly have been somewhat over-emphasized. Moreover, the benefits suggested in the Dr. Oz segment can be achieved by consuming any pepper, not just hot pepper jelly. Eating a healthy/balanced diet in combination with regular exercise remains the healthiest and most effective/efficient way to lose weight, but don’t be afraid to eat those hot peppers for the added metabolic kick.
Updated January 23, 2015
Originally published May 2013