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If you don't know your poblanos from your jalapeños, or your serranos from your habañeros, you may want to brush up. Not only do these fiery chile peppers add heat and verve to a variety of dishes, but a new study reveals that peppers' main heat-producing component, capsaicin, may also promote weight loss.
According to a report in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Proteome Research, new evidence shows that "capsaicin may help fight obesity by decreasing calorie intake, shrinking fat tissue, and lowering fat levels in the blood."
Before you fork over your paycheck for chile pepper supplements, though, keep in mind that the study was conducted in rats, and the reasons for the fat-promoting activity are not 100 percent clear.
Still, there are plenty of incentives to cook with chile peppers aside from their potential weight loss benefits. With a variety of heat levels, flavor profiles, and vibrant colors, chiles are an easy way to punch up summer salsas, vinaigrettes, and salads, and when you grill them, they can take on an entirely different character.
For a chile pepper primer, along with heat level ratings and common culinary uses, check out Chef Kurt Michael Friese's vivid chile descriptions on Nourish Network (Friese, who co-owns the restaurant Devotay in Iowa City, is one of my colleagues on that site.)
Weight loss facilitator or culinary palate pleaser? With chiles, it looks like you may just get both in one hot little package.
What are your favorite dishes that turn up the heat? Chime in below!