Capsaicin found in chili peppers can shrink fat tissue and lower fat levels in the blood, a study found.

When scientists fed high-fat diets with or without capsaicin to lab rats, capsaicin-treated rats lost 8 percent of their body weight. Capsaicin diet changed levels of at least 20 key proteins found in fat.

The altered proteins caused by capsaicin break down fats, according to the study published in ACS’ monthly Journal of Proteome Research.

Obesity is a major public health threat worldwide and is linked to diabetes, heart disease and other health problems.

Researchers said that the findings offer “valuable new molecular insights into the mechanism of the antiobesity effects of capsaicin.”