From The Straits Times    |

Black pepper found to act as fat-busterThe following news item may put pepper grinders in restaurants and kitchens into overdrive. A team of researchers from South Korea say they’ve found that the pungent compound found in black pepper could block the formation of new fat cells.

Published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the study found that piperine — the compound that also causes sneezing — inhibited the formation of new fat cells known as adipocytes, and could serve as a potential weapon against obesity, reported this week.

Laboratory studies and computer models found that piperine interferes with the activity of genes that control the formation of new fat cells.

While black pepper has been used for centuries in traditional Eastern medicine to treat everything from gastrointestinal issues, pain, inflammation and other disorders, scientists say little is known about the mechanisms behind the potent plant.

It’s not just black pepper that’s supposed to have fat-busting properties. Red hot chili peppers are also touted for their ability to help curb appetites, particularly for those who don’t normally eat spicy foods. It’s also been shown to lower cholesterol and ease sinus problems.

Other spices like turmeric, cinnamon, paprika and black pepper have also been shown to help counter the negative effects of high-fat meals.