Black pepper is one of the most commonly used spices in the world, adding warmth and zest to savory dishes. It has been popular in India for thousands of years and is now easy to find almost anywhere on the planet. Several derivatives of black pepper, such as piperine, have shown promise in supporting the health of the digestive system.
Black pepper is the most traded cultivated spice and is propagated by cuttings that are grown by the base of trees. The black peppercorns and ground pepper of commerce are actually immature fruits that are collected as soon as they turn red and dried in the sun. The peppercorns turn black after three days of drying, and when ground, produce black pepper powder. When the fruits are left to ripen and the red outer covering is removed, then white pepper is obtained.
It has a sharp and mildly spicy flavor that goes well with many dishes. But black pepper is more than just a kitchen staple. It has been deemed the “king of spices” and used in ancient Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years due to its high concentration of potent, beneficial plant compounds
Health Benefits of Black Pepper
1. High in Antioxidants
Black pepper is rich in a plant compound called piperine, which test-tube studies have found to have potent antioxidant properties. Studies suggest that a diet high in antioxidants may help prevent or delay the damaging effects of free radicals.
2. Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Chronic inflammation may be an underlying factor in many conditions, such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The main active compound in black pepper (piperine) — may effectively fight inflammation. Treatment with piperine resulted in less joint swelling and fewer blood markers of inflammation. Piperine suppressed inflammation in the airways caused by asthma and seasonal allergies.
However, the anti-inflammatory effects of black pepper and piperine have not yet been studied extensively in people.
3. Prevents Cancer
The spice has Vitamin C, Vitamin A, flavonoids, carotenes, and other antioxidants that help remove harmful free radicals and protect the body from cancers and diseases. The best way to eat pepper to harness maximum benefits is to eat freshly ground pepper, and not cook it along with food.
4. Stimulates Digestion
The piperine in black pepper eases digestion and stimulates the stomach, which then secretes more hydrochloric acid that helps to digest proteins in food. So a bit of pepper in food will actually help you to digest it faster.
5. Relieves Cold & Cough
Black pepper is antibacterial in nature and therefore helps to cure a cold and cough. A teaspoon of honey with freshly crushed pepper does the trick. It also helps to alleviate chest congestion, often caused due to pollution, flu, or a viral infection. You can add it to hot water and eucalyptus oil and take steam. And given that black pepper is rich in Vitamin C, it also works as a good antibiotic.
6. Enables Weight Loss
You might not want to believe this, but black pepper is brilliant when it comes to extracting nutrients from food. And it’s outermost layer contains phytonutrients, which help to break down fat cells, and also increases metabolism. If you eat fresh pepper and begin to perspire, that’s the pepper helping your body to get rid of excess water and toxins. But you need to control consumption – a pinch with your food (one meal) is enough.
7. Improves Skin
Did you know that crushed pepper is one of the best exfoliators nature has provided us? Don’t use it directly though; add a bit of honey, curd, or fresh cream to it. It also enables blood circulation and provides the skin with more oxygen. Adding it to your food also takes care of unwarranted skin wrinkles. Black pepper is known to help in the cure of Vitiligo, a condition where the skin loses pigmentation and creates white patches.
8. Addresses Depression
It’s said that the piperine in black pepper helps to deal with depression. It stimulates the brain and helps it to function properly by making it more active.
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