CURRIES and cuppas could be the key to losing weight, according to a medical study which revealed that the combination of spices and herbal tea prevents obesity.
The spices and herbs used particularly in both Indian food and herbal teas have properties which boost the body's metabolism through a process called thermogenesis.
This is a natural process where fat is burned to produce body heat and can be kick-started by certain types of hot and spicy ingredients, from ginger and onion to turmeric and cumin.
Exercise is another way of kickstarting the process.
Spices also help to make a consumer feel full quicker and so eat less, as well as aiding digestion generally.
The researchers, from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, reported their findings in the medical journal Physiology and Behaviour.
In tests, the best results came from combinations of black pepper, coriander, turmeric, red chilli, cumin, ginger and onion.
The researchers noted that all of these are "commonly used in Indian cuisine and shown to aid digestion and influence overall food intake".
Green and black herb teas also had a significant effect on the body's metabolic rate, led to reduced food intake and over a period saw weight reduction in rats.
Similar tests on humans saw the same effects, but it was harder to tell which herbs and spices were better than others.
The researchers also warned that it may not be enough just to eat curries and sip herbal tea in the bid to fight the fat, despite the beneficial effects of both as part of an overall lifestyle.
The journal's publishers added: "Anyone thinking of fighting the flab with a diet of green tea and curry alone may be disappointed, so don't go cancelling the gym membership just yet."
This article: http://news.scotsman.com/health.cfm?id=1083382006
Last updated: 26-Jul-06 01:06 BST