Food

The Metabolism-Boosting Spices Doctors Say You Should Put On Literally Everything

November 21, 2021 by Justine Schwartz
shefinds | Food

Everything we put in our mouths plays an important role in our weight management and overall health (duh). But it’s not just items in your pantry and fridge items that can determine how your weight loss goals are achieved or maintained; the items in your spice cabinet can aid the process as well! Sprinkling certain spices on your meals can boost their weight loss benefits, as well as aiding other health effects like lowering LDL cholesterol, chronic inflammation and helping diabetics regulate their insulin levels. If your spice drawer is collecting dust, its time to make better use of these healthful ingredients!

Metabolism-Boosting Spices

Health experts have long touted the benefits of spices like cinnamon and capsaicin in helping to fight cravings, boost weight loss and burn more calories.

How do they work, exactly? The very technical answer of how they aid metabolism and weight loss is in through something called the transient receptor potential vanilloid uncoupling (TRP channels). Spices like cinnamon and chili pepper (capsaicin) activates the pathway, “well known to help increase energy expenditure,” board certified internist and bariatric specialist Dr. Amy Lee of Nucific explains. Additionally, the pungency of these two spices or the sensation of “hotness” is “part of the thermogenic effects,” she explains. Mmm, we can smell them already and can’t wait to try them on recipes!

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Cinnamon

"Cinnamon is full of antioxidants from plant compounds including rutin, catechins, and quercetin," registered dietitian Trista Best of Balance One explains. "These compounds stimulate the immune system and are also responsible for reducing inflammation by preventing clumping of blood platelets. Among those impressive benefits it has also been shown to help boost metabolism," she says.

But that's not all--"true cinnamon," known as ceylon cinnamon, is also anti-inflammatory she explains. "Chronic, low-grade inflammation leads to oxidative stress which ultimately results in chronic health conditions, like obesity," and has also been linked to slower metabolisms, interrupted digestion, and impaired immunity system. Yikes!

"Scientists recently learned that whether you’re at your goal weight or need to lose some pounds, simply sprinkling cinnamon on your cereal each morning will lower your blood sugar concentration," board certified physician nutrition specialist and internist Dr. Melina Jampolis agrees.

Dr. Jampolis, who hosts a podcast called "Practically Healthy by Dr. Melina," cites published studies, such as on in Annals of Family Medicine, that show how cinnamon lowers fasting glucose levels, as well as preventing diabetes in the first place.

"That same study showed that people in a range of body weights also see more insulin sensitivity, so the insulin your body creates naturally can do its job more effectively," she says. "Research also shows that eating up to 6 grams of cinnamon each day (a little over a teaspoon) lowers LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides (“blood fat”)." Additionally, this consumption raises HDL (“good”) cholesterol in people with diabetes.

Capsaicin

Capsaicin, found in cayenne pepper, chili peppers, chili powder, curry powder, paprika and red pepper flakes, is also proved to have many health benefits.

Not only has it been found "to suppress inflammation caused by obesity, but it has the potential to decrease food intake, burn more fat, lower body fat stores, increase metabolism, and reduce appetite," Dr. Melina explains. Chili peppers and cayenne, in particular, can help us burn more calories by about 5 percent, she advises.

Or, also in the same family, is dihydrocapsiate, which is a capsinoid ingredient, has also been studied for similar benefits. "This ingredient is known to have a mild thermogenic effect which can help burn up to 50 more calories when taken consistently," Dr. Lee says.

Ginger

Another spice to add to your daily diet: ginger. It "reduced the body mass index (BMI) of obese women in one study after they ate two grams (approximately 1/2 teaspoon) of ginger powder per day," Dr. Melina states. It slightly increases the number of calories we burn, helps with satiety (fullness) as it reduces the amount of food we eat, and improves the health of the gut microbiome, she explains.

"Ginger is also another thermogenic food or spice that can help boost the metabolism," Dr. Lee agrees.

Author: Justine Schwartz

Editorial Director

Justine Schwartz is a veteran women's lifestyle editor; she's written extensively about style & beauty tips, health advice and wedding planning for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in New York Magazine, Huffington Post and New York Weddings. Justine has been with SheFinds since 2010; you can reach her via email at Justine@shefinds.com.

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