Health Benefits of Small But Mighty Spice

Do you enjoy a little black pepper on eggs for breakfast? Maybe on your pasta for lunch? Most likely on your steak for dinner? This extremely popular spice is able to help add a pop of flavor to any dish. Yet, despite many of us using it thoroughly throughout the day; we often have no idea that we are actually putting an amazing superfood into our bodies.

Black pepper is an old spice and can be seen in history as far back as 1,000 B.C., appearing in Greek and Roman texts. History.com even states “traders created fantastical stories about the hardships endured to procure the spices.” Even going as far as to say there was a “dragon guarding a pepper pit.” Why? Because black pepper was used as trade and became an increasingly popular business back in the day.   

Native to India, more specifically the Malabar Coast, this beautiful spice actually begins its journey as a fruit, flowering on the vines of a Piper Nigrum. The small berry contains a single large seed, a thin layer of skin and very little amount of fruit. Once boiled for 10 minutes and laid out to dry in the sun for three or four days, you have yourself groundable black pepper.

Despite its well-known use on our food, black pepper has been used as medicine for thousands of years. Specifically, the ingredient Piperine, found inside the peppercorn, is seen as the main active medicinal compound. Meaning it boasts many health benefits that we should definitely know about! Here are 6 Major Benefits of Black Pepper

1. Anti-inflammatory

Inflammation can often be caused by underlying medical conditions. While short-term inflammation can be seen as great for our bodies because of its role in fighting foreign invaders and even pathogens like bacteria which cause disease. Long-term inflammation can become one of the biggest threats to our bodies. With inflammation coming from health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer and heart disease, peppercorns could help in more ways than we know.

Although studies haven’t been done on humans, many studies on rats show the benefits of black pepper. For instance, studies have shown piperine has the potential to lower inflammation in the body and show less inflammation in joints. Even in mice, black pepper was able to aid in allergies and asthma as inflammation was reduced in the airways (1).

2. Anti-oxidant

Once again, Piperine comes to the rescue as labs have found black pepper has powerful antioxidant properties. Why is this important? Despite our bodies producing its own antioxidants, it’s also beneficial for us to take other forms in too. These antioxidants can prevent free radicals from forming. Free radicals are “unstable molecules” that can “build up in cells and cause damage to other molecules” according to the National Cancer Institute.

Unfortunately, our bodies form free radicals through anything from pollution to the sun. This can be damaging to our health and can lead to larger health problems like heart disease, certain cancers or inflammations. An NCBI study showed that during a 10-week study on rats, who ate a high-fat diet, those with black pepper added to their diets found less free radical damage than those without it.

Health Benefits of Black Paper

 

3. Blood Sugar

Glucose is the main sugar found in our blood, and as we also consume glucose from food, it’s important to keep our blood sugar in a normal range. Black pepper can come in handy when doing this as it may potentially help improve your blood sugar metabolism.

A 2013 study found that the oil from black pepper was naturally able to prevent two enzymes from being able to break down the starch into glucose. This means it could potentially “manage and/or prevent type-2 diabetes and hypertension”, as well as regulate or delay glucose absorption into the blood.

4. Brain Health

The potential of black pepper brain health benefits is fairly well known due to the activity against free radicals. Like we talked about above, the antioxidants have been known to aid in damage caused by free radicals, more importantly, the damage of healthy brain cells. Black pepper is able to improve cognitive function and memory by stimulating the chemical pathways to the brain. For instance, studies suggest pepper may help in preventing Alzheimer disease by being able to heal nerve damage which improves memory.

5. Cancer-fighting

What could possibly be one of the biggest black pepper benefits is its potential to have cancer-fighting properties. Despite no human trials being carried out, test-tube studies have been shown to aid in breast, colon and prostate cancer. An NCBI study states that “The free-radical scavenging activity of black pepper and its active ingredients might be helpful in chemoprevention and controlling progression of tumor growth.”

In one of these test-tube studies, black pepper extract “may promote anti-tumor effect either individually or in concert with traditional therapies” stated by Research Gate. []

6. Digestion

When it comes to black pepper and our stomachs, many benefits come with consuming the powerful spice. Along with aiding in digestion, it’s also able to boost nutrient absorption, prevent diarrhoea, promotes gut health and may even reduce appetite.

A study in Science Direct shows that during a study, consuming black pepper was able to increase the absorption of beta-carotene. This is important due to beta-carotene being a compound found in fruit and vegetables which our bodies convert into vitamin A. On the same note, beta-carotene absorption is equally important due to its fight against heart disease and oxidative stress. This is done through the powerful antioxidants properties of black pepper, which fight off cellular damage (2).

Health Benefits of Small But Mighty Spice

 

Black Pepper & Coffee

Coffee and black pepper… could we be looking at a match made in heaven? Or at least a match made in body heaven. With black coffee being high in antioxidants too, the combination of both will have great benefits. Just as it’s able to enhance flavor and aid in the absorption of foods, the addition of black pepper will not only enhance the benefits of your coffee but will give you a bit of a zinger to help wake you up in the morning.

Black peppers benefit stretch far and wide and have been fairly well known in the alternative and modern medicine worlds. With all of the health benefits listed above, it’s no better time than now to grab your pepper grinder and start adding this powerful spice to whatever foods and coffee, you can.