Everybody thinks they know about black pepper. Chances are they don’t. Sure, it can be found on almost every table across the country, usually already ground up and placed in shakers. Of course, take it up a notch, and it comes in whole peppercorns that are ground up as needed in a hand-held mill. Most people use it without thinking; a little splash here and a sprinkle there to spice up almost any dish. What most don’t realize is black pepper, also known as piper nigrum, has been sought for thousands of years for its health benefits. It is simply overflowing with minerals and nutrients. FYI, white pepper isn’t bad, either. So, what gives these spicy black pepper benefits? Read on.
It would be hard to stuff more into a simple teaspoon of black pepper. It has six calories, one gram of carbohydrates, one gram of fiber and no sodium, sugar, protein, fat or cholesterol. But it does contain vitamins A, E, K, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, selenium and zinc. If that’s not enough, black pepper holds antioxidants, flavonoids, essential oil and other phenolic compounds.
Black pepper gives a boost to digestion and related tummy issues. It does this, in part, by kick-starting pancreatic enzymes and stimulating bile flow and bile acid secretion. The spice also helps relieve stomach gas, flatulence and colicky pain through its carminative properties. While these benefits are admirable, too much black pepper, such as more than a tablespoon daily, can encourage the production of free radicals and lead to mild intestinal bleeding.
The alkaloid piperine makes up about five percent of black pepper. It not only provides its spicy flavor, black pepper supplies pepper’s antioxidant powers. It helps battle the damaging impact of free radicals. These antioxidant properties also protect the skin against human skin from ultraviolet-B-induced damage. Piperine’s anti-inflammatory power is reputedly more effective than the prescription medication celecoxib.
Mixing turmeric with black pepper, specifically the five percent of curcumin in turmeric and the peperine in pepper increases the bioavailability of curcumin by 2,000 percent. It gives the combination an incredible ability to fight ulcerative colitis, cancer, diabetes, lupus and osteoarthritis. It also helps speed recovery from surgery and treats eye inflammations.
Sure, black pepper makes food taste better and aids digestion, but it can help stimulate appetites, which is a boon for picky eaters. Black pepper’s smell is known to entice pediatric and geriatric to eat. Its benefits also extend to helping people lose weight thanks to the phytonutrients in the outer layer of peppercorns. They speed the breakdown of fat cells. Since it’s a diuretic and diaphoretic herb, black pepper also promotes urination and perspiration, which flushes flush toxins and removes water from the body.
Recent research indicates that black pepper’s health benefits can help offset age-related and neurodegenerative diseases. The spice’s bioactive neuroprotective compounds, such as piperine, have the potential to battle ailments like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and multiple sclerosis. It may also be effective against epilepsy, ischemic stroke and neuropsychological disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Since it is loaded with vitamins A and C, carotenoids, flavonoids, folic acid and potassium, among other nutrients, black pepper builds hair health. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers fight excess free radicals, reducing oxidative stress on follicles.
Did we miss any benefits? Let us know at email@example.com.
WellWell editors independently identify services and products of interest. If readers purchase anything through the associated links, WellWell may earn a commission, which goes to support our work. Learn More.