With so many of the world’s most common diseases and health problems related to lifestyle habits, many people want to improve their health and prevent these diseases naturally through food.
Many foods, herbs, and spices have properties that help improve health and reduce disease risk. But people often overlook their benefits.
Black pepper is a spice known as “the king of spices,” and for a good reason.
Black pepper has a distinctly strong aroma and is one of the most common spices in spice cabinets worldwide.
It also has several potential health benefits and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine, one of the world’s oldest medical systems that people in India still use.
As more people are looking for natural and holistic healthcare, black pepper may surprise you in terms of the numerous ways it might benefit your health.
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Is Black Pepper Good For Your Health?
Black pepper is a safe spice for most people to consume.
One possible danger of black pepper is that it may accidentally get into the lungs if you take it in large amounts by mouth. This risk is primarily in children, so they shouldn’t have access to herbs and spices for general safety.
Piperine is the compound in black pepper that provides potential health benefits and health-promoting properties.
Black pepper and piperine have been studied in numerous research settings. And the results are promising in terms of their potential benefits.
It’s important to note that many of the studies are animal studies or in vitro studies. In other words, they didn’t study a whole living organism but a test tube.
Because of its numerous potential health benefits and minimal possible negative consequences of eating black pepper, it’s safe to consume it regularly for both flavor and health benefits.
11 Black Pepper Benefits
1) It’s a source of antioxidants
Black pepper can have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are important because they help fight damage to cells from free radicals, which are unstable atoms that can cause damage to human cells.
Both black pepper and its main element, piperine, can reduce oxidative stress on cells based on an animal study. Because of its antioxidant properties and ability to protect against free radicals, black pepper may even help slow tumor growth.
Antioxidants such as the kind in black pepper have anti-inflammatory properties. Many diseases result from inflammation. This includes atherosclerosis (depositing of plaque in arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke), cancer, liver disease, and the aging process.
Consuming antioxidants in the form of whole foods, herbs and spices are one of the many ways to help prevent chronic disease, along with other healthy lifestyle habits.
2) May help fight bacteria
Black pepper has antibacterial properties, meaning it helps prevent bacteria growth and prevent food spoilage.
A study tested the antibacterial effects of black pepper chloroform extract against Escherichia coli, or E-coli, a common bacteria that causes foodborne illness.
The researchers concluded that the black pepper mixture helped destroy bacteria, making it a prime candidate for natural food preservation options.
3) It could help fight mental health disorders
A study looked at the effects of black pepper on its ability to fight anxiety and depression.
While the study was on animal subjects, it concluded that black pepper has anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties and may help protect brain cells against stress.
Black pepper may also be beneficial in treating psychiatric conditions related to Alzheimer’s disease, a type of progressive dementia.
4) It might support brain health
Another study on rats found black pepper to have a possible role in fighting neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s dementia.
Memory impairment and neurodegeneration significantly improve with the administration of black pepper at varying doses. Because animal study results don’t translate into benefits for humans, more studies involving people will need to be done.
Another study found piperine to help improve memory and repair myelin, a protective covering around nerve cells.
When myelin is damaged, the electrical impulses between nerves slow, leading to memory problems and other cognitive issues.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease in which the myelin sheaths of nerves are destroyed. Therefore, researchers suggest that piperine may be beneficial as a treatment for MS.
5) It might help with blood sugar control
Piperine extract can help with blood sugar control since it has potential blood sugar-lowering properties, according to animal studies.
Piperine extract could lower blood sugar when given to diabetic rats at lower doses. But it raised blood sugar when given in high doses.
Like all animal studies, the results aren’t interchangeable with potential human benefits. But these findings show promise and warrant further research.
6) Black pepper benefits cholesterol levels
Having high cholesterol is one of many risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death for both men and women.
In another study, rats were fed a high-fat diet, leading to high blood lipids (cholesterol and fat). After administering black pepper extract, those rats had a significant decrease in body weight and lipid levels.
7) Black pepper might help fight cancer
While there aren’t any human studies on black pepper’s potential to fight cancer, there are in vitro (test tube) studies suggesting this.
As is the case with all in vitro and animal studies, more studies on humans will be necessary to determine black pepper’s piperine efficacy in cancer prevention and treatment.
8) Black pepper can help you absorb other nutrients
Black pepper may help improve the absorption of curcumin, the chemical in turmeric that gives it its bright orange color.
Turmeric has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine. It has gained popularity in the modern-day wellness world for its numerous potential health benefits, particularly its anti-inflammatory properties.
Considering most chronic disease stems from some inflammation, the curcumin in turmeric has many benefits and may play a role in disease prevention.
9) Black pepper benefits digestion
If you’re experiencing stomach upset and slow digestion, black pepper might help improve your symptoms.
Piperine in black pepper positively stimulates the release of digestive enzymes and reduces the time it takes to digest food.
On the other hand, if you don’t produce enough digestive enzymes, symptoms such as diarrhea, excessive gas, bloating, weight loss, fatty stool, and abdominal pain can arise.
Because of its potential benefits, people with gastrointestinal disorders may benefit from black pepper.
However, people with active stomach ulcers may want to avoid black pepper. This is because it can act as an irritant when the stomach’s mucosal lining is damaged.
Doctors sometimes recommend avoiding spicy foods such as black pepper while recovering from a stomach ulcer.
But this will depend on the healthcare provider and individual patient.
10) Black pepper fights stomach infections
Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori, is a type of bacteria that causes stomach infection. H. pylori infection is common in childhood.
The bacteria attack the lining of the stomach. And over time it can lead to stomach ulcers when the protective mucosal lining is damaged.
Not only are H. pylori infections a common cause of stomach ulcers. But they are also a risk factor for developing stomach cancer. Daily black pepper consumption can reduce the likelihood of H. pylori infection and stomach cancer.
11) Improving blood pressure
In animal studies, the piperine in black pepper has a blood pressure-lowering effect.
High blood pressure is a common condition affecting nearly half of Americans.
High blood pressure increases the chances of developing heart disease, stroke, and other health problems. So promoting healthy blood pressure is important.
How To Get Black Pepper In Your Diet
The easiest way to include black pepper in your diet is through the pepper shaker or grinder.
Black pepper is incredibly versatile and pairs well with most dishes, both meat- and plant-based.
You can buy black peppercorn in a grinder, grind it fresh, or purchase ground black pepper powder. Either option will provide potential health benefits, but many people prefer to buy black peppercorns because of the fresher flavor.
You can even make black pepper tea if you want something spicy!
Another option is to use black pepper essential oil, a more concentrated form of black pepper.
You can use black pepper essential oil in cooking or apply it to the skin as a massage oil.
Because of its warming sensation, using black pepper essential oil should be done carefully and using a carrier oil to minimize over-application and potential skin irritation.
Because of its ability to maximize curcumin absorption from turmeric, the piperine in black pepper can also be found in supplements combined with turmeric.
You can purchase these supplements online and in health food stores, so they are easily accessible.
How Much Black Pepper Should You Consume?
We don’t know any maximum dose of black pepper for safety considerations. And it’s generally a safe spice.
However, consuming large amounts of black pepper may cause irritation and a burning sensation in the mouth or stomach.
People sometimes use black pepper as a deterrent for animals. So it makes sense that consuming large amounts of it may come with some unpleasant side effects.
If you consume piperine supplements, it’s best to stick with the dosage on the bottle.
When consuming fresh black pepper, try eating it in moderation. Then, increase the amount as desired as long as there are no adverse side effects.
Everyone’s threshold for flavors and substances varies. So it might require some trial-and-error to find the correct dosage if you want to increase your black pepper consumption to gain its health benefits.
Black pepper contains piperine, which gives it its hot and distinct flavor. Piperine has been studied in numerous animal and in vitro (test tube) studies to investigate its potential health benefits, which have long been appreciated in Ayurvedic medicine.
Piperine has demonstrated numerous potential health benefits based on the studies done so far.
Some of the potential black pepper benefits include its ability to help reduce inflammation, fight cancer cells, improve digestion, improve blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol and boost absorption of certain nutrients such as curcumin, the primary ingredient in turmeric that gives it its orange color.
There is no specified recommended dose of black pepper. You can consume it in ground black pepper, using essential oils, or taking supplements with piperine in them.
However, due to its warmth, consuming large amounts of black pepper may lead to a burning sensation in the mouth, skin, or stomach. So you should use it in moderation.