A preliminary new study* suggests that the ingredient in black pepper that makes you sneeze—a compound called pepperine—might also help you slim down by blocking the formation of fat cells.
The study, led by Ui Hyun Park of Sejong University in Seoul, Korea was recently published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The researchers believe that piperine, a major component of black pepper, inhibits fat cell differentiation. These results could ultimately lead to its use in the treatment of obesity-related diseases.
Black pepper has a long history of use in traditional eastern medicine to treat cholera, diarrhea and gastrointestinal disorders, but little is known about the precise mechanisms behind its therapeutic properties. Hoping to answer these questions, researchers looked at the effects of piperine on gene expression in fat tissue in the lab and in computer models.
The results showed that piperine interfered with the activity of genes responsible for forming new fat cells. The researchers say the compound in black pepper sets up a chain reaction that helps keep the formation of fat in check in other ways as well.
Park and his colleges believe that piperine could be a lead natural compound for the treatment of fat-related disorders.
Further research is still needed to confirm these effects, and if they do, black pepper might be a breakthrough natural alternative treatment for obesity.