We know that eating well and exercising are key to shedding pounds, but can natural substances enhance your efforts? David Rakel, M.D., director of University of Wisconsin's Integrative Medicine program, weighs in on the latest findings.
Remedy: Capsaicin and Green Tea
The evidence: New research suggests that adding capsaicin (the chemical that gives hot peppers their spicy kick) and green tea to your diet could quash your hunger and cut calorie intake.
The verdict: Since it's so stimulating to your taste buds, capsaicin could help keep you from overeating, says Rakel. In addition to tossing hot peppers into stir-fries or salsas, brew a few cups of green tea each day to rev up your metabolism without delivering too much caffeine.
Remedy: Vitamin D
The evidence: In a study of 38 overweight men and women, University of Minnesota researchers found that those with higher vitamin D levels lost more weight when placed on a low-calorie diet.
The verdict: The theory that vitamin D could fuel fat metabolism needs to be tested in larger studies, says Rakel. "But because vitamin D is so important to health -- in terms of bone strength, heart health, and cancer prevention -- it should be incorporated into your health routine."
Remedy: White Tea
The evidence: Compounds in white tea may stall the growth of new fat cells, as well as trigger the breakdown of fat in existing fat cells, according to a report in Nutrition & Metabolism.
The verdict: Low in caffeine and high in antioxidants, white tea can be safely sipped several times a day. More research is needed, says Rakel, but "preventing the growth of fat cells could be helpful in averting the many health problems linked to buildup of fat around the waistline."