The often forgotten half of the classic salt and pepper pairing, black pepper has some impressive health benefits. Originating in India, a peppercorn is actually a dried fruit from the black pepper plant, and is sold either in peppercorn form or ground down into a powder. As the world’s most traded spice, pepper is used both for its subtle spicy flavour, caused by the chemical piperine, and also for its medicinal properties. Keep reading to find out what you can expect by grinding some pepper into your meals; here are our Top 5 Health Benefits of Black Pepper!
1. Aids digestion
Black pepper stimulates the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, a key substance that aids the digestive process. Without sufficient hydrochloric acid digestion will be slowed, leading to numerous negative outcomes, such as heartburn, indigestion and constipation. The outer layer of the peppercorn also aids the breakdown of fat cells, which combined with reduced bloating, leads to a flatter stomach. Furthermore, the antibacterial properties of pepper will ensure bad bacteria in the gut, which contribute to gas and other digestive issues, are levelled.
2. Clears the respiratory system
Pepper acts as a great decongestant. With its combined expectorant properties and mild irritant effects, it helps to clear the air and nasal passages. Not only does it help to expel materials from the body through coughing and sneezing, but it also helps to break down and thin any mucous and phlegm, thus making it easier to expel.
3. Provides key nutrients
Most notably high in vitamin K, manganese, iron, and dietary fibre, black pepper contains many important vitamins, minerals, and other key nutrients. These antioxidant properties help protect against free radicals that can lead to cancer, cardiovascular disease and other serious problems.
4. Improves neurological health
Piperine, one of the key components of black pepper, has been shown to stimulate brain pathways and so reduce memory impairment and cognitive decline. Early research has also had promising results on the ability of this chemical to benefit those suffering with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other age-related or free radical induced memory and cognitive impairments.
5. Increases bioavailability
The chemical piperine discussed above, uses multiple mechanisms to ensure that the body can extract the maximum amount of nutrients that our food provides. It works by inhibiting enzymes and stimulating transporters, resulting in substances entering and staying in cells for longer than they normally would, thus ensuring that the cells can extract the full nutritional benefits. Furthermore, black pepper increases digestive capacity and reduces gastrointestinal food transit time, which also in turn helps in minimising waste.
Black pepper has so many health benefits and is so easy to add into your daily diet; try a soya or meat steak with crushed peppercorns, add into a lemon and oil salad dressing, or just keep a mill on the dining table to season each meal. Get creative and try adding it for a kick to your favourite recipes. Let us know how you love to use black pepper below or @ KeepfitKingdom !