Chilli chocolates to help burn off calories soon

London: Mouth-watering chocolates and cakes to help you burn off calories could soon be a reality, with researchers claiming to have found an ingredient from chilli peppers which speeds up the body`s metabolism.

This "miracle" extract, known as dihydrocapsiate (DHC), is one of the several chemical compounds called capsinoids found in a particular variety of chilli.

It is tasteless and speeds up the body`s metabolism, helping one to burn more calories.

The substance is already sold in the form of diet supplement pills in the US and Japan, but it could soon be used as a food additive in Britain, according to British tabloid Daily Mail.

Now a Japanese food firm, Ajinomoto, has submitted its plans to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) with the aim of adding it to chocolate bars, desserts and ready meals targeted towards slimmers.

FSA has recently declared the extract safe. Now it is up to the European Commission to decide whether it can be sold. If approved, products with DHC could appear on shelves very soon, the report said.

According to Ajinomoto, it plans to make the ingredient synthetically as only very small amounts can be derived from chilli peppers.

Up to 3mg would be added to a portion of food -the amount of extract found in ten chillis.

The firm insisted it was not trying to claim people would be able to lose weight simply by eating their food. It would have to be part of an overall healthy diet and active lifestyle to achieve results.

However, dietitians have said that the effects of eating the foods would be minimal. They claim that in reality, a person weighing 15 stone consuming the recommended portions of foods containing DHC would probably burn off only 50 extra calories a day- the equivalent of a digestive biscuit.