Last updated on August 2nd, 2022
People all over the world consume Black pepper in their diet for two good reasons, and that is its ability to enhance the taste of any dish with its strong yet mildly spicy flavour and its amazing health benefits. Famously called the ‘king of spices’, black pepper has been used in Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani-the traditional Indian systems of medicine, for thousands of years for its various medicinal properties such as to treat menstrual, ear, nose, and throat disorders.
Derived from the Sanskrit term ‘pippali’, Black pepper was once a much-prized trade good and referred to as “black gold”. In addition to its ability to flavour cuisines, black pepper also functions as a preservative and provides heat to a dish.
With one of the oldest histories as a sought-after spice, black pepper was highly prized in ancient Greece and Rome. Its popularity grew even more during the Middle Ages and Renaissance as people learned more about its health advantages.
Black pepper is typically cultivated in tropical regions and is native to south India, mainly in parts of Kerala, Karnataka, and Goa. In Asia, black pepper is majorly grown in countries like China, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand.
Black peppers or peppercorns are dried unripe berries of the trailing vine plant, Piper nigrum. Its colour depends on when it is picked. The most prevalent pepper is black pepper. To get black pepper, cultivators pick almost-ripe peppercorns and dry them until they become black.
Accounting for more than 94% of the spice, Potassium makes up the majority of the nutritional content of black pepper. It is also rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium, among other essential micronutrients.
Nutritional Value of Black Pepper
Black pepper contains a variety of chemical compounds that can be beneficial for your health. The active ingredients in black pepper include oleoresins and alkaloids such as piperine and chavicine, which are considered strong antioxidants. These components are known to reduce the risk of developing chronic illnesses like atherosclerosis, neurological conditions, and cardiovascular disease, among several others. Black pepper also houses flavonoids, essential oil, and other phenolic components that are good for cell protection and your overall digestive health.
Additionally, this tiny bundle of miracles comes packed with the goodness of Manganese that takes care of your bone health and metabolism and helps heal wounds. Moreover, one teaspoon of black pepper contains 16 percent of your daily required intake (DRI) of manganese and 6% of vitamin K intake (DRI).
According to the USDA, The nutrients in a teaspoon of ground black pepper (2.3 grams) are listed in the table below:
|Nutritional Value of Pepper
Glycemic Index of Black Pepper
What makes this pungent spice best for your health is its low glycemic index which is ranked at 32. The glycemic index of any food is a mathematical calculation of the time it takes to get digested and the time taken by it to release sugar into the blood. GI values less than 55 are considered low, while values above 70 are considered as high meaning the food will spike normal blood sugar instantly upon being digested, hence not good for people with diabetes.
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Health Benefits of Miraculous Black Pepper
The use of black pepper in Ayurveda (India’s ancient system of medicine) itself vouches for its miraculous health benefits. More than just a flavour enhancer; it also contains bioactive components, the most notable of which is piperine, which has so many health advantages.
Piperine, a natural alkaloid, which is responsible for its strong, pungent flavor is also the main element in black pepper, and it’s what gives it its health benefits.
There are several health advantages of black pepper and many of them come from its rich nutritional content.
High in Antioxidants
According to the National Institutes of Health, black pepper has piperine. It is the plant compound that is abundant in black pepper, has strong antioxidant properties and helps protect your body from cell damage caused by free radicals.
When free radicals outnumber antioxidants, it sends your body into oxidative stress. Persistent oxidative stress may harm your DNA as well as result in cell death. Excessive free radical damage can also trigger health problems such as inflammation, heart disease, certain malignancies, and accelerated ageing, among several other ailments.
However, if you consume foods that are high in antioxidants, such as black pepper, it could lessen free radical damage. Piperine present in black pepper can prevent or inhibit free radical damage and related illnesses like diabetes, atherosclerosis, and cancer.
Packed with potent antioxidants such as piperine, black pepper may help ease inflammation. Piperine has also been studied for its anti-inflammatory properties which may help protect against renal tissue damage associated with ischemia-reperfusion- tissue damage that occurs due to the lack of enough oxygen supply to a body part.
Piperine has also been learned to reduce chronic inflammation in people with metabolic syndrome.
Good for the Digestive System
The benefits of black pepper also include improved digestion. The moment black pepper reaches your taste buds, it sends out a signal to your stomach, telling it to release hydrochloric acid, which is necessary for good digestion. In case your body is not able to make enough hydrochloric acid you can have several digestive problems like indigestion and heartburn. As a result, it will also compromise the absorption of the critical nutrients in your body.
Black pepper can also be used to aid intestinal gas and bloating.
Piperine, the potent antioxidant present in black pepper, also fights against several bacterial infections due to its antibacterial properties. As per the Biosciences Biotechnology Research Asia, black pepper has been found effective against gram-positive bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus- that can cause serious infections like bloodstream infections, pneumonia, or bone and joint infections.
Piperine can also help fight foodborne pathogens and multidrug-resistant pathogens and may assist modern medicine as a bioactive compound for new antibacterial drugs.
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It May help Suppress Cancer
According to the Sage Journals, black pepper has been found to have several anti-cancer properties.
Black pepper can enhance anticancer properties and block off harmful cell growth that may cause cancer with the help of a strong antioxidant, piperine, present in high amounts in it.
Piperine also helps as a therapeutic agent in suppressing cancer cell replication in breast, prostate, and colon cancer and has shown promising results against bone cancer- osteosarcoma.
Piperine can also maximize the effects of other spices in your diet such as turmeric, by aiding in its absorption in the intestine.
Promotes Good Cholesterol
Black pepper, which is an integral part of cuisine all over the world, is known to have anti-cholesterol chemicals and to raise high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.
Incorporating black pepper into your regular diet can significantly increase a high-density lipoprotein- known as ‘good cholesterol, which has beneficial effects on lipid metabolism in humans.
Controls Blood Sugar
Piperine, a chemical found in black pepper, has been shown to lower blood sugar levels. According to the NLM, piperine has also been seen to enhance the effectiveness of anti-diabetic drugs, for it is a bio-enhancer.
This potent antioxidant is also effective against insulin resistance and may help improve insulin sensitivity in type-2 diabetes.
Nutrient Absorption and Gut Health
Black pepper has immense health benefits, which include promoting nutrient absorption while also acting like a prebiotic, regulating intestinal microbiota, and improving gastrointestinal health. This tiny spice also stimulates the secretion of hydrochloric acid in your stomach, resulting in better digestion and absorption of the foods you eat.
Boosts Memory and Brain Activity
According to The Joint Chiropractic, black pepper can improve and boost brain function. Piperine has the ability to protect the body from disorders that cause cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer’s disease, by fighting the degradation of brain neurons.
Serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain have also been proven to be influenced by piperine. Increased amounts of these two hormones can help you remember things as they’re associated with memory formation.
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Recipes with Black Pepper
Black pepper, also known as the “king of spices” is used in major cuisines around the world for its strong aroma and ability to add spicy-heat flavor to a dish. Largely used as a spice or seasoning, black pepper can also be used as the main ingredient in some cuisines. Here are some recipes that you can cook using black pepper:
Lemon Pepper Fish Tacos
Fish tacos are a simple and tasty lunch that is popular in beachside areas. To make this dish you need:
For Tacos we Need
- Butter: 1 tablespoon
- Lemon juice: 1 tbsp, fresh
- Lemon zest: 2 teaspoons, freshly grated
- Salt: 1/2 tsp
- Black pepper: 1/4 tsp, coarsely crushed
- Tilapia filets: 1/2 pound
- Coleslaw mix: 3 cups
- Cilantro leaves: 1/2 cup
- Corn taco shells: 8, hard, warmed
- Pico de gallo: if desired
- Guacamole: if desired
- Sour cream: if desired
Instructions to Make
1: In a 10-inch nonstick pan, melt butter over medium-low heat until it sizzles. Now put some lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in it. Cook for 7-10 minutes, or until golden brown and flaky on both sides. Remove the pan from the heat.
2: Toss the coleslaw and cilantro into the pan and toss to mix it well and heat through.
3: Cut the fish into small pieces.
4: Fill each taco shell halfway with the coleslaw mixture and the fish. If desired, garnish with toppings.
Black Pepper Chicken
With this quick and simple Chinese-inspired restaurant-style Black Pepper Chicken, you can make your guests go gaga over your culinary skills. This delicious dish can be done at home in just 30 minutes.
Chicken: Boneless and skinless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch cubes
Soy Sauce: As per taste
Garlic: fresh minced
Cornstarch: enough to wrap chicken pieces
Vegetable oil: Any mild-flavored oil like vegetable oil, safflower, or sunflower oil
Onions: One large onion, chopped
Bell Pepper: Any color pepper cut into 1 small ½-inch pieces
Sesame oil: toasted sesame oil preferred
For Black Pepper Sauce
Sichuan peppercorn powder
How to Cook
1: Toss the chicken pieces with 1 tablespoon soy sauce and minced garlic in a medium mixing dish. Mix the chicken with the cornstarch and toss thoroughly.
2: Add sauce ingredients: In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients for the black pepper sauce.
3: To cook the chicken take a wok or big pan, and heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Add only half of the chicken and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it turns golden brown.
4: If the wok is low on vegetable oil, add another tablespoon or two. Sauté onion and peppers for a minute. Add the stirred fried chicken to the wok, along with the black pepper sauce that was prepared in a bowl.
5: Toss until everything is properly blended. Pour some sesame oil over the chicken and stir well.
6: Your Black Pepper Chicken is now ready to be served. Serve it with some rice.
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Side Effects of Black Pepper
There is not much evidence to propound that black pepper has any significant health concerns or negative effects on humans.
However, too much consumption of black pepper can potentially lead to adverse effects in certain situations, causing stomach problems, and tongue and throat burning.
Can Interfere with Medications
The presence of piperine in black papers may interfere with the absorption of certain medicines, such as antihistamines. This may be beneficial for medicines that are poorly absorbed, but it may cause over-absorption of other drugs, hence increasing the chance of side effects from some medications.
Slows Down Blood Clotting
Piperine found in black pepper might slow blood clotting and increase the risk of bruising and bleeding if taken in large quantities.
May form Kidney Stones
Foods rich in oxalates are recommended to be avoided to keep kidney stones from reforming. Though black pepper has high quantities of oxalate present in it, its small serving makes it totally safe from consuming dangerous quantities of oxalate.
To counter the kidney stone issue, you need to limit your intake of foods that contain higher amounts of oxalate, including black pepper.
May Cause Allergies
Black pepper is used in a variety of dishes and is beneficial for health. However, this does not imply that you can overuse this spice in your dishes, since this may raise the risk of gastrointestinal problems and allergies.
Meanwhile, possibly safe black pepper oil can also leave a burning aftertaste and might upset the stomach if not taken in moderation. It might also cause coughing.
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Can Diabetics Eat Black Pepper?
Black pepper is safe for those with diabetes, as it can help with blood glucose management and lowering blood glucose spikes. Black pepper also substantially increases insulin sensitivity. As reported by the National Institutes of Health, black pepper helps improve hyperglycemia.
Piperine, a bio enhancer and a potent antioxidant found in black pepper works as an anti-diabetic agent and helps the body absorb medications more effectively. Additionally, piperine aids in the maintenance of healthy digestion, allowing for a better glucose-insulin balance.
Although black pepper is considered to be a safe spice, it should only be consumed in small quantities. Excessive doses of black pepper can create a blood glucose increase by allowing for a faster rate of nutritional absorption.
As we now know, black pepper alters blood glucose levels and may provide numerous health advantages, so it’s important to keep a check on its consumption.
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In ancient times, black pepper has been used in traditional medicine for its various health advantages.
Rich in antioxidants like piperine, black pepper offers anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and may also help improve brain function.
Piperine is the main ingredient found in black pepper as it is a powerful antioxidant that provides protection against free radical damage to cells, improves brain functionality by preventing brain neuron degeneration, and combats tumour cells that can lead to cancer.
Lastly, though black pepper is considered a safe and nutritious spice for everyone, it can interact with certain drugs. Hence it is recommended that you consult professional medical advice regarding your health issues and the effects of black pepper on your medications. Also, the suggested quantity of black pepper in a healthy person’s diet should not exceed a teaspoon per day.
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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):
Black pepper is a diuretic, hence promoting urine and sweating, both of which aid in the removal of toxic substances from the body. As a consequence, research suggests that black pepper may aid in liver health.
Black pepper oil usually doesn’t have any adverse effects but can have a burning aftertaste. Taking excessive doses of black pepper orally can be fatal if it mistakenly enters the lungs.
Known for its distinctive strong-pungent smell and spicy-heat flavour, black pepper, if not stored properly, can lose its flavour after about four months. However, if stored in an airtight container and placed in a cold and dry place, black pepper can last for up to three years.
Also, don’t store grounded black pepper for long, as it can also change its taste. Air, light, heat, and humidity are the worst enemies of ground black pepper freshness and can quickly shorten the life of the pepper.
There’s no harm in including black pepper in your diet but consume this spice mindfully. The consumption of black pepper should not exceed 1-2 tablespoons per day, to be exact. Excessive consumption can cause several adverse effects on your health and may also interfere with your medication, if any.
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