You might not be aware of it but I bet the last food you ate had some of the best spices and herbs for weight loss. I say that because a lot of these seasonings are actually kitchen staples. Black pepper, cayenne, and ginger, for example, are all probably in your pantry.
Of course, there are others like fenugreek that aren’t really all that typical. Still, you can find tons of recipes that use these uncommon ingredients.
Having said that, this article will detail 20 scientifically proven herbs and spices for weight loss. This includes the ones I’ve previously mentioned and a few others that you might want to add to your shopping cart.
Let’s get to it!
Chili peppers generally have weight loss properties because of an active compound called capsaicin. It’s the same compound that gives these peppers their heat and it’s also one of the most well-researched weight loss compounds.
But, in a nutshell, a review published last 2017 says that among capsaicin’s many weight loss benefits include helping suppress appetite, amplifying the breakdown of fat, and boosting metabolism (i.e. thermogenesis).
On that note, cayenne is nowhere near the top of the list when it comes to capsaicin concentration but I think it’s one of the best spices for weight loss.
I say that largely because it’s also one of the most available spices there is. It also has just enough capsaicin to be tolerable for most people but still be an effective weight loss spice.
2. Black pepper
Black pepper technically doesn’t have a direct impact on weight loss. I mean, there’s a fairly recent research suggesting a connection between piperine, black pepper’s active compound, to fat loss but it’s not at all conclusive.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s useless.
Compared to a lot of other seasonings, it flavors your food while adding significantly less calories. Moreover, it’s known to help your gut absorb more nutrients from food while being a nutrient powerhouse itself.
In a low calorie setting, this basically means adding a few pinches of black pepper to your food means it’s easier to get the vitamins, minerals, and other goodies your body needs without having to consume too much food. That’s both healthy and great for weight loss in my book.
First of all, turmeric isn’t just some spice that you add to food. It’s actually used in Ayurvedic medicine for literally thousands of years.
In terms of belly fat and overall weight though, turmeric’s benefits rely largely on its active compound curcumin. According to a review from 2019 on curcumin, the compound helps lower BMI rating, weight, and waist circumference. So, yes, it’s effective.
However, turmeric only contains 2-8% of curcumin. Not a lot, I know, so you might want to use turmeric together with black pepper to maximize absorption.
Here’s another spice used in ancient Ayurvedic medicine. And, as you might expect, it smells intense. Also, I’m not saying it doesn’t taste good but I can’t quite put my finger on its flavor. It’s complex to say the least but with the right recipe, it’s delicious.
The seeds, in particular, are packed with oils with powerful antioxidant properties and with less toxins in your body, the better your metabolism gets.
If you were to have cardamom in your diet though, I recommend getting black cardamom over its green counterpart since research suggests it might be better for reducing fat, blood pressure, triglycerides and other markers of obesity.
Per research, ginger root is capable of boosting your metabolism and fat burning while also helping to stop the creation of new fat cells. Oh, and did I mention it helps suppress your appetite, too?
I think it truly is one of the best spices and herbs for weight loss — all around the world.
Moreover, this pungent root is one of the most common ingredients found in effective detox teas largely because of its effect on gut and liver health. While indirectly, these effects alone can help you lose weight faster especially if you’ve been living an unhealthy lifestyle.
(We have an entire article focused on detox teas for weight loss by the way. Go check it out if you want to propel your fitness goals faster.)
Speaking of detox teas, cumin is another spice commonly found in these drinks. Its active ingredient, thymoquinone, has potent antioxidant properties that help rid your body of harmful free radicals. I think this is great for weight loss because a lot of people (including myself once) had tons of these free radicals floating around their bodies due to unhealthy choices.
Plus, cumin seems to have a direct effect on weight as well seeing as how simply adding cumin powder to your daily regimen can help reduce weight, fat, BMI, and waist circumference.
The talk about cinnamon and weight loss is that it helps boost metabolism. Truthfully though, there’s not a lot of scientific evidence to support that claim.
What science knows, however, is that cinnamon is high in fiber. That in itself can help you feel fuller faster, thus potentially helping you eat less food.
Furthermore, there’s research suggesting that Cinnamaldehyde, the active compound of cinnamon, amplifies fat breakdown and helps control blood sugar levels — effects that you’re going to want to have whenever you’re trying to get a leaner physique.
I’m one of those people who think that garlic makes pretty much everything taste better. Plus, it barely has any calories.
To me, these are 2 of the biggest reasons why I always season my food with garlic especially when I’m on some kind of weight loss journey.
More than that though, the research on garlic points towards how effective it is for shedding inches off the waist. So, if you want to downsize those pants, you might want to consider sprinkling your food with garlic. Be sure to brush your teeth afterwards though. Garlic breath is nasty!
Like a lot of people, my mind wanders off to increased energy and libido whenever someone mentions ginseng. That’s what it’s known for after all.
Little do most people know, however, that ginseng may very well be one of the best spices and herbs for weight loss. According to research, the plant root can enhance your metabolism while simultaneously reducing the amount of calories you eat.
Moreover, there are a lot of ways to incorporate ginseng in your diet. Supplementation and tea are great examples but I prefer adding powder to my smoothies to sort of mask its bitterness.
If you want to do what I’m doing, I highly recommend you look for concentrated powders like this 200:1 version from Micro Ingredients. This way, you get a lot more of its active compounds per scoop.
Fenugreek is loaded with fiber that, per research, can make you feel more satisfied and less hungry. This can lead to having less food on your plate and, ultimately, weight loss.
Like a lot of herbs and spices for weight loss on this list, part of what’s so good about fenugreek is that there’s a lot of ways to introduce it to your diet.
Again, supplements are great, but I’m one of those people who prefer to have herbs and spices in my meals rather than in capsules. Whole fenugreek seeds are particularly versatile, too. You can grind them up to make powder, boil them to make tea, ferment them and serve as a sort of side dish, and many more.
While most people think of dandelions as pesky weeds, I just think they’re beautiful. More importantly though, they’re considered a healthy plant largely because it helps with digestion and it’s loaded with antioxidants. You probably don’t need me to tell you this but those are things you want to have when you’re trying to lose weight.
Furthermore, In a study on using herbal remedies to maintain optimal weight, dandelion is mentioned a few times as an herb that aids weight loss. Specifically, you can use the bitter root of dandelions as tea to help promote fat breakdown. The leaves can also be added to salads.
12. Mustard seed
I think mustard seed is great for weight loss simply because of its nutritional composition. Per the USDA, a teaspoon of ground mustard seed only has a little over 10 calories and about half a gram of carbohydrates.
To me, this makes it great for adding flavor to your food without having to worry about excess calories that will be deposited as fat.
13. Coleus forskohlii
Whenever I’m checking out weight loss supplements, one of the things I look for is if the supplement has coleus forskohlii. I legitimately think it’s one of the best natural fat burners out there.
For one, there have been separate studies proving how effective this plant is at mitigating obesity for both men and women without any serious side effects.
Specifically for men though, the same study noted a significant increase in bioavailable testosterone — which is great because more testosterone generally means better muscle building and fat burning capabilities.
In this case, supplementation is probably your best option. However, when you shop for supplements, do make sure you get at least 500mg a day and get one that’s standardized for a minimum of 10% forskolin (the plant’s active compound). Vitamin Bounty’s product ticks both these boxes so you might want to start with that.
Real talk: hibiscus flowers are some of the prettiest flowers I’ve ever seen. Amazingly, they’re not all colors and petals. They’re pretty darn healthy, too — from flowers, leaves, to calyces, this plant is packed with health benefits.
Hibiscus tea, in particular, has been used to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol as well as a mild diuretic (per Natural Medicine Journal). As a weight loss herb, modern research suggests it helps reduce body weight and fat as a means of fighting against obesity.
Yes, saffron — the one, the only… the most expensive spice in the world — helps you lose weight.
It hosts a collection of powerful antioxidants which can potentially supercharge your metabolism. That alone makes it great for weight loss.
But, wait! There’s more!
A study also found that saffron helps suppress your appetite while simultaneously making you feel full. From what I know, scientists aren’t exactly sure how saffron does these things but the theory is that it simply makes you happy — and the happier you are, the less you crave food.
Rosemary is probably right up there with the most commonly found herbs in anyone’s kitchen. I mean, after all, a lot (and I mean A LOT) of recipes use rosemary. It’s fragrant, it’s delicious, widely available, but best of all, it’s healthy.
In particular, the herb has carnosic acid which seems to be largely responsible for the rosemary’s weight loss benefits. As a matter of fact, there have been numerous studies suggesting rosemary being an effective tool for weight, fat, cholesterol, and triglyceride reduction.
And, if anything else, the same acid has antioxidative properties which, again, may help speed up your metabolism.
On the topic of herbs in virtually everyone’s kitchen, let’s talk about parsley.
I like parsley on my pasta. I like parsley on my steak. I like parsley on my salad. I even like parsley on my smoothie. I know a lot of you do, too. I mean, why not, right? It’s both cheap and delicious after all.
What makes it one of the best spices and herbs for weight loss, however, is that it’s simply so light. In fact, a cup of parsley only has 21.6 calories (per USDA) — and you typically won’t even use that much when you’re cooking! Plus, it adds a bit of fiber to your meals and that’s always an effective way to feel full and stay satisfied for longer.
Oh, and it’s also a diuretic. So, if you ever feel bloated, grab some sprigs of parsley and make something out of it.
18. Coriander seeds
Coriander might be one of the most polarizing herbs in the world. Some people love it, some people think it tastes like soap, while some others (such as myself) don’t actually have an opinion.
But here’s the thing: Everything about this herb screams useful both in the kitchen and in health. Among its many benefits are that it’s an antioxidant, a diuretic, and is great for digestion — effects that can help rid your body of excess free radicals which, in turn, can fire up those metabolic jets.
Like a lot of the herbs and spices on this list, fennels are in a lot of recipes and therefore in a lot of kitchens. What I like about using fennel for weight loss is that both the seeds and the bulbs come loaded with dietary fiber but also have low calories.
Specifically, an entire bulb of fennel only has about 73 calories with over 7g of fiber (per USDA) while a tablespoon of the seeds are worth 20 calories and a little over 2g of fiber (per Nutritionix).
Their fiber content, in particular, helps keep your hunger at bay while also ramping up your metabolism. These effects aren’t limited to just having them as a part of your meals either. Per research, fennel and fenugreek tea — which is also one of the best herbs for weight loss by the way — have the same effect.
20. Green tea
There are a couple of reasons why I think green tea belongs in this list:
First, it’s loaded with antioxidants. More specifically though, epigallocatechin gallate or simply EGCG. This compound is responsible for most (not all) of green tea’s fat burning benefits because of its ability to influence your metabolism and fat burning.
The other reason is caffeine (yes, green tea has caffeine). Like EGCG, caffeine also boosts your metabolism and fat burning processes.
Here’s the thing though:
You can have your EGCG and caffeine from different sources but based on scientific evidence, the fact that green tea has both makes it superior.
Before you leave, just know that while these herbs and spices have properties that help you lose weight, it’s also fairly easy to go overboard.
Remember that all of them have calories, too, no matter how low. And when your caloric intake exceeds what your body needs or is capable of metabolizing, that’s when they turn to fat and tilt the weighing scale.
Also, it’s always best to pair these with exercise. Roughly 30 minutes of your time should be enough for a start.
Having said that, moderation still is (and will probably always be) key.
If this helped, pay it forward and don’t hesitate to share this with someone else who might need it, too.