Is Spicy Food Good for Dieting?

As muggy weather continues, many people are looking for spicy food to fight fire with fire. And many women try to keep in shape by eating spicy food, believing that the capsaicin in powdered chili pepper has a fat-reducing function.

In a sample test of 201 kinds of foods sold at eateries near schools this year, the Korea Food & Drug Administration found that tteokbokki, a traditional spicy rice cake, contains 9.7 to 23.7g sugar per 100g or roughly seven pieces of tteokbokki. That would put paid to the traditional belief that spicy food is good for health and can prevent weight gain, experts say.

Kim Hyung-mee, chief nutritionist at Severance Hospital, said, "It's true that the capsaicin in powdered chili has a lipolytic function. But most restaurants put the same amount of sugar as powdered chili in the food to give it both a hot and sweet taste, so people who have to watch their sugar or calorie intake should be extra careful."

Asan Medical Center chief nutritionist Kang Eun-hee said, "The more spicy or salt food you eat, the more rice you will eventually crave, and that could threaten your health as you take in excessive sugar and high calories from rice. Therefore eating spicy or salty food is not so helpful to dieting."

englishnews@chosun.com / Jun. 04, 2009 08:00 KST