What Are the Health Benefits of Black Pepper?

Pepper can be found in almost every kitchen. Though ubiquitous and viewed as pedestrian now, in ancient Greece it was used as currency and was pivotal in the spice trade across the world. Many people throw it into every savory recipe they cook without even thinking. But pepper is doing more than adding seasoning to a dish when you use it: it adds extra nutrients to your food. Pepper contains antioxidants, has antimicrobial properties and gastro-protective modules.
Studies have shown that black pepper can fight many problems. Its free-radical scavenging activity and active ingredients may ward off cancer or slow tumor development. Piperine, the active ingredient in black pepper, aids cognition, improves nutrient absorption and boosts gastrointestinal functionality. The spice also has anti-inflammatory, gastro-protective and antidepressant abilities.
The spice has a lot of other properties. Research has also linked it to steady blood sugar, lower cholesterol and better brain health. Animal models have also shown that pepper may be a natural pain killer. Research has seen that, when used topically, it can reduce the appearance of vitiligo. The exterior of a peppercorn can be made into a tea that some people swear by for weight loss as it can breakdown fat. Traditional medicine mixes honey and black pepper for respiratory problems.  
Moreover, while pepper in and of itself is beneficial, it also helps other nutrients to work more efficiently in the body. In studies, it has boosted the absorption of curcumin from turmeric, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers found that taking 20 mg of piperine along with two grams of curcumin increased the availability of curcumin in blood by 2,000 percent. Pepper also improves the absorption of resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, that may lower the risks of brain disorders, heart disease and type-2 diabetes. Both curcumin and resveratrol are very difficult to absorb on their own.  

Dr. Nihal Ahmad, of the Univ. of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, has studied the effect piperine. He believes that, taken in high doses as part of a supplement, the chemical could be dangerous. “There’s the risk of absorbing things you don’t want in the body,” he said.
Studies into pepper’s health impacts have primarily been done in mice, and we are still waiting for human results. Scientists say that it seems to increase the absorption of antihistamines, which would be helpful, but it could lead to overdoses for other drugs. But the doses would have to be quite high, like in a supplement. So, while adding it to your dinner might be beneficial, eating it by the spoonful would not be.
One final note on pepper, it can cause sneezing. Everyone knows this but might not think about it. For this reason, people who have recently undergone surgery may want to think twice before getting the pepper mill out.
August 30, 2019

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