Capsaicin is the pungent component of chillis. It has long been known to have a thermogenic effect (Matsumoto et al., 2000), This effect is more pronounced in lean subjects than in obese subjects. As a weight loss strategy the prolonged consumption of hot chillis does not seem like a viable proposition.

Recently capsiate has been identified as a component of the nonpungent red pepper cultivar CH-19 Sweet. In a 2-week human intervention study, capsiate increased metabolic rate and promoted fat oxidation at rest, leading to the conclusion that capsiate may help to prevent obesity. Capsiate was shown to increase the levels of uncoupling protein (UCP)1 and mRNA in brown adipose tissue and UCP2 and mRNA in white adipose tissue. This suggests that the effect of capsiate may be mediated via UCP1 and UCP2 (Masuda et al., 2003).

In October 2005, the Japanese food, amino acids and medical research firm Ajinomoto announced the creation of a range of foods containing capsiate. The company acquired the intellectual property rights to capsiate from fellow Japanese food and health beverage developer Morinaga & Co. and, according to the announcement, intends to conduct scientific testing to provide evidence for the future health claims it intends to make for products that it develops based on the compound (Anon., 2005).

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