The fat-fighting power of black pepper has been explored in a new study from Sejong University in Korea.
They found that a component of black-pepper, called piperine, can block the formation of new fat cells. Piperine is the pungent-tasting substance that gives black pepper its characteristic taste.
The study appears in the journal Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Soo-Jong Um and colleagues describe previous studies indicating that piperine reduces fat levels in the bloodstream and has other beneficial health effects.
Black pepper and the black pepper plant, they note, have been used for centuries in traditional Eastern medicine to treat gastrointestinal distress, pain, inflammation and other disorders.
More on herbs and traditional medicine: Herb Guide
Their laboratory studies and computer models found that piperine interferes with the activity of genes that control the formation of new fat cells. In doing so, piperine may also set off a metabolic chain reaction that helps keep fat in check in other ways.
This knowledge may lead to wider use of piperine or black-pepper extracts in fighting obesity and related diseases.
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J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Apr 18;60(15):3853-60. Epub 2012 Apr 6. “Piperine, a Component of Black Pepper, Inhibits Adipogenesis by Antagonizing PPARγ Activity in 3T3-L1 Cells.” Park UH, Jeong HS, Jo EY, Park T, Yoon SK, Kim EJ, Jeong JC, Um SJ.Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, BK21 Graduate Program, Sejong University , Seoul 143-747, Korea.