Benefits of Black Pepper You Didn't See Coming

Nutrition

 

By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder

Black pepper is one of the most widely used spices to enhance the flavor of savory (and sometimes sweet) dishes. And you probably don’t think you are doing much for your health when you put black pepper on your eggs in the mornings, or allow the server at the restaurant to sprinkle fresh ground pepper on your food.

But you may be doing great things for your health when you pick up the pepper shaker. And this is so exciting, because it doesn't get much easier than peppering your food as a way to be proactive about good nutrition.

Check out some of the health benefits of this spice, and spice up your life!

Black pepper may help with brain function and improve symptoms of depression.

Piperine, one of the main compounds in black pepper, may do wonders for cognitive function and mental health. In a study published by the National Institutes for Health (NIH), rats were given different doses of piperine: 5, 10 and 20 mg (once daily for a duration of four weeks). Results revealed that even the rats that were given lower amounts still showed “anti-depression like activity” and improved cognitive functioning.

Furthermore, several studies also report that black pepper may slow down aging of the brain and help prevent Alzheimer’s.

Black pepper may fight obesity.

There is some evidence that shows that piperine may block the formation of new fat cells.  It reportedly interferes with the activity of genes that control the formation of new fat cells. As a result, it may help fight obesity.

Black pepper may help fight cancer.

“The free-radical scavenging activity of black pepper and its active ingredients might be helpful in chemoprevention and controlling progression of tumor growth,” according to the NIH.

The American Institute for Cancer Research also reports, “[p]iperine, when tested independently, exhibits anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer activities in cell studies.”

A study conducted by the University of Michigan found that black pepper may help prevent breast cancer by limiting the growth of stem cells, the small number of cells that fuel a tumor’s growth.

Black pepper may help you kick your smoking habit.

We all know smoking is highly unhealthy and detrimental to your health by causing cancer. It can also deplete nutrients from your body and cause your skin to age more rapidly. Smoking is highly addictive and if you are trying to quit but have not been successful, try black pepper essential oil.

The NIH conducted a study with 48 smokers and separated them by groups with different treatments:

Group 1 - Smoked a device that delivered a vapor from essential oil of black pepper.

Group 2 - Smoked a device with a mint/menthol cartridge.

Group 3 - Smoked a device with an unflavored placebo.

None of the smokers in the study were allowed to continue their normal smoking habits.

The smokers who received the black pepper oil reported reduced cravings for smoking cigarettes.

The study also revealed, “[i]n addition, negative affect and somatic symptoms of anxiety were alleviated in the pepper condition relative to the unflavored placebo. The intensity of sensations in the chest was also significantly higher for the pepper condition. These results support the view that respiratory tract sensations are important in alleviating smoking withdrawal symptoms. Cigarette substitutes delivering pepper constituents may prove useful in smoking cessation.”

Black pepper also has antimicrobial properties that may help ease stomach issues. It may even help your body better absorb some of the nutrients that are vital in keeping your body at its healthiest state.

Speaking of nutrients, black pepper contains many important nutrients.

Just one tablespoon of ground black pepper contains:

  • Calcium, 31 mg. Black pepper may even help your body better absorb calcium. Of course, calcium is important for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. This mineral is also important for maintaining hair and nail health in perimenopausal and menopausal women. Adequate calcium intake may also decrease your risk for colorectal cancer.
  • Magnesium, 12 mg. This must-have mineral helps with blood pressure regulation and also has antioxidant properties. Several studies have also shown an improvement in the severity of symptoms of depression when study participants were given 125-300 mg of magnesium with each meal and at bedtime.
  • Phosphorus, 11 mg. This mineral works with calcium to build strong bones and teeth. It is also needed to help balance and use other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, iodine, magnesium and zinc.
  • Potassium, 92 mg. There’s a surprising connection with the liver and potassium. Liver injury or infection causes patients to urinate their potassium out. When the liver heals, the potassium levels start to go back up. This has implications for people with chronic liver problems, in terms of both diet as well as use of medications, since very low potassium levels can be more dangerous than the liver problem alone. Potassium may also help keep blood pressure under control and may even help reduce kidney stones and bone loss as you age.
  • Vitamin A, 38 IU. Vitamin A helps with bone growth and reproductive health. It is mainly known for improving your eyesight, skin health and cell regeneration.
  • Lutein + zeaxanthin, 31 µg. These are carotenoids (plant pigments that give many fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors), and they are also found in quinoa. They are actually antioxidants located in the eye. It makes sense that these nutrients may be great for eye health. “Lutein and zeaxanthin filter harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light and help protect and maintain healthy cells in the eyes. Of the 600 carotenoids found in nature, only these two are deposited in high quantities in the retina (macula) of the eye,” reports the American Optometric Association.
  • Vitamin K, 11.3 µg. Vitamin K is an essential nutrient that regulates normal blood clotting, which helps prevent excessive bleeding.

Along with healthy foods, there are a variety of healthy spices. These spices may just seem like seasonings to make our food tastier, but they actually do more. And remember that some people may be allergic to certain spices, including black pepper. You may need to get a food allergy test to determine what those spices are.

So think about the health benefits of black pepper the next time you sprinkle it on your food, and pat yourself on the back for being proactive about your nutrition.  

Healthy food and spices are medicine!

Enjoy your healthy life.

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.

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