Save money on your weekly shopping list. The fat-burning effects of regular black pepper are not to be sneezed at.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

In the UK, the obesity crisis continues unabated. Levels have tripled in the past 30 years and, if current rates continue, there will be 11 million more obese adults by 2030, leading to an additional seven million cases of diabetes, six million cases of heart disease and stroke, and 500,000 cases of cancer. OK, it’s too heavy a problem for easy answers – but the latest studies suggest you could have a crack at it using what’s already in your kitchen cupboard.

A six-week study revealed that piperonal, a compound in black pepper, significantly reduced the harmful effects of a high-fat diet in rats. By the end of the trial, test subjects had gained less weight and had lower body fat percentages and blood sugar levels than the control group. The piperonal even increased their bone density. Scientists concluded that compounds in pepper regulate common genes associated with obesity. Plus, research published in Nutrition & Metabolism found that pepper causes muscles to burn more fat during intense exercise – another reason to keep your grinder close for pre-workout morning eggs.

Underused compared to salt and far less pricey than the apothecary list you’re taking into the supermarket, it’s comforting to know that the true superfood has been under your nose the whole time. Weight loss needn’t be complicated – so get cracking.


Fill your cupboard with the unassuming staples proven to tighten your bel

i/ MUSTARD Make your office lunch work harder by adding a teaspoon of mustard to your ham sandwich, which Oxford Brookes University found boosts metabolism by 25%.

ii/ SOY SAUCE The umami flavour of soy can put the brakes on sugar cravings, according to journal Appetite, helping you make healthy choices throughout the day.

iii/ VINEGAR Ignore the Instagrammers taking shots of apple cider vinegar and splash malt on your chips instead. Its acetic acid content is proven to keep you sated.