8 Reasons to Start Saying, “Pass the Pepper, Please!”

April 22, 2020   |   Leave a comment   |   4

Black pepper is, without question, one of the most widely used spices around the world. And yet, despite its popularity, black pepper remains underappreciated for its many health benefits.

The King of Spices

Black pepper is made by grinding peppercorns, which are actually dried berries from the Piper nigrum vine. It has been called the “king of spices” and used in ancient Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years thanks to its high concentration of beneficial plant compounds.

If you have only thought of black pepper as a simple spice, you’ll definitely want to keep reading to learn 8 different health benefits it offers.

  1. Rich in Antioxidants

If you’ve read our blog for any time now you know exactly what free radicals are and how they can damage your body, cause rapid aging and certain diseases such as heart disease and certain cancers.

Black pepper happens to be rich in a plant compound called piperine. Test-tube studies have found that this compound is incredibly rich in potent antioxidants. Test-tube and animal studies have found that ground black pepper (along with piperine supplements) may reduce free radical damage in the body.

  1. Offers Anti-Inflammatory Properties

As you may well know, chronic inflammation is the underlying cause of many health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Studies now suggest that the plant compound piperine found in black pepper may effectively fight inflammation throughout the body.

In animal studies, piperine resulted in less joint swelling. Other studies showed piperine suppressed inflammation caused by asthma and seasonal allergies. While more human studies will need to be conducted, the research so far on black pepper’s ability to fight inflammation is promising.

  1. May Help Control Blood Sugar

Studies suggest that piperine may help diabetics control their blood sugar. In one study, rats fed black pepper extract had less significant blood sugar spikes after consuming glucose compared to rats in the control group.

Additionally, in a study that saw 86 overweight people take a piperine supplement for 8 weeks, most saw significant improvements in insulin sensitivity, a measure of how well the body uses the hormone insulin to remove glucose from the blood.

  1. May Lower Cholesterol

High levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death worldwide. Multiple animal studies have pointed to black pepper’s ability to potentially reduce cholesterol levels.

In addition, black pepper and piperine are thought to boost the overall absorption of dietary supplements that also have cholesterol-lowering effects like turmeric and red yeast rice. And not just by a little. Studies have shown that black pepper may increase the absorption of the active compound in turmeric, curcumin, by as much as 2,000%!

  1. May Have Cancer-Fighting Properties

The more you read about piperine, the more significantly beneficial it may become to all aspects of human health. Researchers are now suggesting that piperine may have cancer-fighting properties.

While no human studies have been conducted, test-tube studies have found that piperine slowed the replication of breast, prostate, and colon cancer cells and induced cancer cell death. Additionally, piperine has shown promising effects in lab studies for reversing multidrug resistance in cancer cells. This issue is a big one as far as the efficacy of chemotherapy treatment.

  1. May Promote Gut Health

We’ve talked extensively on this blog about gut health and its relation to your ENTIRE health. When your gut is populated mostly with beneficial (probiotic) bacteria, you have better immune function, better mood and less chronic disease.  Preliminary research suggests that back pepper may increase the good bacteria in your gut.

  1. May Offer Pain Relief

Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, the piperine in black pepper may be a natural pain reliever, as has been suggested by rodent studies.

  1. May Improve Brain Function

In animal studies, piperine has been shown to improve brain function. Specifically, piperine has demonstrated potential benefits for symptoms related to degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

In one study, rats with Alzheimer’s disease had improved memory. In another study, piperine extract seemed to decrease the formation of amyloid plaques – dense clumps of damaging protein in the brain that are believed to be the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s.

While human studies are needed to confirm these benefits outside of animal studies, results so far are quite promising.

The bottom line is, black pepper is not just a spice that gives foods a bit of flavor. Thanks to its high content of piperine, black pepper may have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which may, in turn, decrease your risk of developing certain health conditions. Again, while more human studies are needed for conclusive results, animal studies so far show promising results using black pepper against high cholesterol, cancer and even Alzheimer’s. So why not add a bit more of this flavor-enhancer to your daily cooking routine?

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