Spices added to food are said to help you lose weight in various ways. For one thing, you tend to eat less of a food if it’s spicy, and some spices are reputed to affect your metabolism. Other spices have a reputation for affecting your body in other ways that promote weight loss. Here are some of the better-known spices that may boost weight loss, and how they are said to do so.

1. Cinnamon

While some sources claim cinnamon lowers blood sugar, other sources tout its regulating effect. Either way, cinnamon is also said to regulate your body’s metabolism of carbohydrates. Cinnamon also may lower cholesterol, which is helpful for those who are trying to lose weight.

2. Cayenne pepper

This fiery red pepper not only heats up your mouth when you eat it (thereby possibly reducing the amount you can eat!), but studies have shown that it also speeds up your metabolism by as much as 25 percent. Also, cayenne (or chili pepper) is hot enough to induce you to drink a lot of liquid with your meal, which also contributes to a feeling of fullness.

3. Black pepper

Black pepper is certainly not exotic; almost every kitchen table has a pepper shaker. Maybe we ignore the pepper shaker a bit too often, though, or use old pepper that has been ground a long time. A chemical in pepper, called piperine, is reported to be a nervous system stimulant. This stimulation, in turn, may boost the metabolism. But freshly-ground pepper has the most piperine.    

4. Turmeric

If you’ve ever used turmeric, you know the golden glow it gives foods. This yellow-gold spice may also help prevent fat absorption, and studies on mice showed that a component of turmeric, curcumin, had an inhibitory effect on fat tissue growth. Turmeric is commonly used in combination with ginger and cumin (not to be confused with the substance called curcumin found in turmeric) in “curry powder.” Some sources say that the weight-loss effects of turmeric are enhanced when combined with these other spices.

5. Ginger

And speaking of ginger, it also has a reputation as a diet-friendly spice. It may speed up metabolism, and it also is purported to enhance digestion. Effective weight loss and healthy digestion certainly go together, so adding a teaspoon or so of fresh, grated ginger to tea, soups, stir-fries, or other foods may be helpful for those trying to lose weight.

6. Mustard

When it comes to low- or no-calorie flavor, it’s hard to beat mustard. Even some prepared mustards have zero calories. Studies have shown mustard may be one of those spices that, like cayenne, boosts metabolism. Mustard also contains the important substance selenium, which is implicated in blood sugar regulation. Selenium also has the reputation of enhancing weight loss.

The good thing about all these spices is that they are flavorful. They can add flavor to low-fat, low-calorie foods. And adding spice and heat to foods probably means you’ll eat less of the spicy dish.