What Is Black Pepper?
A Complete Guide To 11 Amazing Health Benefits
If you’ve been hearing some pretty interesting things about the health benefits of black pepper and want to know more then this complete guide is perfect for you.
People have been using black pepper as a tasty seasoning in their food for centuries, but as it turns out, there are actually some really impressive properties that can be very good for your health.
This spicy little fruit is so popular in the west, yet not very often discussed, so this complete guide to black pepper should get the ball rolling.
To find out more about this spicy little berry, please keep reading.
So, What Is Black Pepper Then?
The Mysterious Little Berry
Black paper is one of the most popular spices in the world. It is commonly referred to as ‘the king of spices’ due to its popularity.
A pinch of black paper is added to almost every imaginable savory recipe (and some desserts too) due to its remarkable pungent flavor.
Where Does It Come From?
Black pepper is the fruit of a pepper plant which comes from the Piperaceae family and is native to a southern state of India called Kerala.
Is It Just A Spice?
The pepper is not only used as a spice but also as a medicine. It has a chemical known as Piperine which is responsible for its spiciness.
The black pepper plant bears clustered flowers after three to four years which are small and white. The flowers then develop into berries called peppercorns.
The peppercorn is then grounded into a fine powder called black pepper which is used in flavoring food and also used because of its medical properties.
What Does All This Mean?
Peppercorns are a berry and are used in herbal medicines as well as food.
What Are The Health Benefits of Black Pepper?
The 11 Benefits That Make It So Good
As we discussed in the opening paragraph, black pepper is starting to gain popularity for its apparent healthy aspects.
It has a variety of valuable properties.
Black pepper health benefits may include:
1. Better Skin
Black Pepper may also help in improving the health of the skin.
Vitiligo is a skin disease which leads to loss of normal pigmentation causing white skin patches on the affected areas.
Black pepper helps to cure vitiligo and restore normal skin pigmentation. The chemical Piperine, found in black pepper, stimulates the production of skin pigments. (1)
Ultraviolet light therapy combined with topical application of Piperine is much better and safer than the chemically-based vitiligo treatment options.
Piperine topical treatment also limits the exposure to ultraviolet rays thereby reducing chances of getting skin cancer.
2. Fighting Infection
Black Pepper has antibacterial properties.
The vitamin C content of the pepper is responsible for its antibacterial properties. This compound helps the body to fight against bacterial infections and even insect bites.
Most people are not aware that this beneficial spice contains vitamin c and although it does, it is worth pointing out that it is in small quantities.
3. Fighting Free Radicals
Black Pepper has antioxidant properties.
Another benevolent aspect of black pepper is that is may help either prevent or repair the damages caused by free radicals in the body.
The free radicals are produced as byproducts during cell metabolism. They then attack healthy cells in the body causing their DNA to undergo mutations thereby transforming them into cancerous cells.
Black pepper could possibly help prevent several conditions from affecting the body such as liver problems, cardiovascular diseases, and even cancer by neutralizing these byproducts.
4. Burn Fat
Black pepper may assist in weight loss.
Peppercorn, specifically its outer layers, might assist the weight loss process by enhancing the breakdown of adipose cells (fat cells) in the body. The broken down adipose cell become a little easier to process.
Though the fat burning benefits of black pepper are not necessarily huge, combined with a diet that is designed to lose weight such as the high protein and low fat lifestyle, is can all add up.
5. May Help With Coughs
Black pepper might assist with respiratory relief
The pepper has expectorant properties which help in breaking phlegm depositions and mucus in the respiratory tract.
The pepper is also a natural irritant causing you to sneeze and cough which in turn expels the loosened unwanted materials out of the respiratory tract.
6. Nutritional Absorption
Black pepper may help by enhancing the bioavailability of other foods.
There is some evidence to suggest that black pepper when added to other healthy food substances in the body, maximizes their overall effect. It makes the nutrients present in the food substances readily accessed by the body.
As mentioned in an above segment, black pepper contains piperine, which can help the body process such things as curcumin, a key ingredient in turmeric, a very popular medicinal food.
7. It Might Make You Smarter
Black pepper may assist with cognitive and neurological health improvement.
Several studies have proven that Piperine helps to reduce cognitive malfunctions and memory impairments. It stimulates brain chemical pathways and can, therefore, benefit people that are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. (2)
The neutralization of free radicals as earlier stated can also help to reduce dementia and other aging symptoms such as degeneration of muscles and wrinkles. Because of this, taking black pepper might help to give you a better memory and reduce intellectual degradation.
8. Metabolic Support
Black pepper may play a role in enhancing an individual’s metabolism.
The pepper helps in digestion by increasing the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. An enhanced digestion leads to better food metabolism in the body. Better still, the proper digestion helps to prevent stomach related problems such as constipation and diarrhea.
Black pepper also has carminative properties that help in treating flatulence by inhibiting bacterial growth.
It also has purgative properties, that is, it cleanses the intestines and protects the digestive and excretory systems from infections which may help to prevent such illnesses as colon cancer.
Piperine also possesses mild laxative properties.
9. Removing Toxins
Black pepper may have diaphoretic and diuretic properties. (3)
Consuming black pepper can help to stimulate sweating and urination. These processes help the body to push out excess toxins, excess salts and uric acid.
It also has diuretic properties that help in reducing inflammation.
10. Blood Pressure Benefits
Black pepper might help with regulating blood pressure.
The black pepper contains potassium which may in some cases counter the harmful effects of excess sodium thereby keeping your blood pressure healthy and under check.
It also might help to improve blood circulation.
11. Healthy Teeth
Black Pepper could help with dental health.
Black pepper has been shown to possibly support dental hygiene, improving your dental health by fighting tooth decay and in some cases, quickly relieving toothache.
The antibacterial properties might assist with reducing harmful mouth bacteria.
Keeping the mouth, bacteria free and clean can help to maintain teeth health.
Other uses of black pepper include hair revitalization, treatment of dandruff and skin exfoliation.
What’s The Take Away From This? Is Black Pepper Healthy?
Black pepper has some small, but powerful health benefits worth taking note of.
Black Pepper Nutrition
What’s In It?
Black pepper also contains essential nutrients needed by the body for example potassium, manganese, calcium, dietary fiber, iron, vitamin C and vitamin K.
It is also a good source of copper and chromium.
Black pepper contains 2 percent of the dietary requirement of vitamin C.
It has 3 percent of the R.D.I of calcium and has 10 percent of the R.D.I of iron. This may be a good enough reason for vegetarians to eat a lot more peppery foods.
The protein content of black pepper is pretty low though at just 0.7 grams. Black pepper, however, has no fats and zero cholesterol. (4)
What Does This Mean?
Let’s be real, most people aren’t going to eat a lot of black pepper, but if you do, there is some solid nutrition there.
Black Pepper Side Effects
What Are They?
By now, we’ve established that black pepper has quite a number of health benefits however, excessive consumption can lead to some issues in a small amount of the population.
Like most foods, there is always a portion of the public that cannot stomach certain quantities.
Side effects of black pepper may include such issues as:
Bleeding Ulcers (Stomach Ulcers)
Mildly Painful Bowel Movements
Burning Of The Throat
These problems are similar to most spicy foods such as chili and wasabi.
Avoiding Black Pepper
As a result of the above-mentioned issues, it is necessary to avoid using black pepper in recipes for people suffering from ulcerative colitis, peptic-acid diseases, diverticulitis conditions and stomach ulcers.
What’s The Bottom Line Here?
People who can’t eat chilis probably won’t be able to stomach black pepper either.
Getting The Best Black Pepper
Fresh is Best
In order to enjoy these health benefits and also get the important nutrients, you need to know how to buy and store the pepper (yes it sounds like child’s play).
It is advisable to buy whole peppercorns rather than pepper powder. This is because the pepper powder sometimes contains other added spices or fillers (like rice) thereby adulterating the original spice. Obviously, a discerning consumer does not wish to spend money on unwanted product fillers.
Another advantage of peppercorns is that they retain their freshness indefinitely while pepper powder retains the freshness for about 3 months.
Be keen to select heavy, compact and wholesome peppercorns. As for the storage, peppercorns are better stored at room temperatures.
They can be stored for many years and simply hand milled when required for use. Powdered pepper on the hand is much better stored using airtight containers in refrigerators.
What’s The Take-Home Message Here?
Fresh, whole peppercorns are the nutritionally superior and flavorful product.
What Is Black Pepper?
What’s been effectively shown here is that black pepper is more than just a tasty, spicy seasoning and flavor agent for meals. It has excellent nutritional properties and some impressive health benefits.
Though small in size, black pepper packs a punch both flavorwise and with some beneficial nutrients that might just add a little bit of improvement to one’s health.
Piperine that is in black pepper may be very useful in helping to absorb the healthful properties of other foods too, meaning that adding a little more black pepper to every savory meal, could be a winning idea. With the popularity of turmeric and the curcumin that is in it, black pepper which helps absorb the curcumin, could be a great addition to curries or any savory recipes containing the ever popular turmeric spice.