Improved digestion, nutrient absorption, and its antioxidant properties are just some of the health benefits of black pepper. Learn four more surprising advantages of this spice and why you should always have it in your herb and spice collection!
In this article:
- Salt and Pepper as the Classic Duo for Boosting Flavor
Remarkable Health Benefits of Black Pepper You Didn’t Know
Salt and Pepper as the Classic Duo for Boosting Flavor
When dinner needs a flavor boost, you probably turn to the classic duo: salt and pepper. Together, they are a force to be reckoned with.
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Separately, they offer a plethora of health benefits you might not even know about. But, while salt has its fair share of upsides, it also comes with some downsides like contributing to high blood pressure, heart disease, and dehydration.
Pepper, on the other hand, has next to no downsides. It isn’t touted as one of the “kings of spices” for nothing!
This natural wonder comes from black peppercorns, a fruit grown on the Piper nigrum plant, which can be made into a variety of flavors depending on when it was plucked.
It provides natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which are needed in the body. You can use this common spice every day to help with everything from quitting smoking to improving the skin.
Here are four potential health benefits of black pepper:
1. Can Curb the Need for a Cigarette
A small study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that smelling black pepper for two minutes decreased nicotine cravings and delayed the need for a cigarette for chronic smokers.
Want to give it a try? Pour about a half a cup of freshly ground black pepper into a bowl. Place your nose over the grinds, and take a deep breath. Repeat for a total of two minutes.
2. May Improve a Damaged Nervous System
In a research study funded by McCormick Science Institute, black pepper extract improved the swallowing function of stroke patients by activating specific regions of the brain.
Other research, published in 2012 by the Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters found that piperine, an active ingredient in black pepper, blocks a type of enzyme that degrades the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Dopamine Definition: A neurotransmitter in the brain that involves many functions such as memory, motivation, and body movement regulation.
As a result, it may be beneficial for preventing Alzheimer’s disease. How much of an impact pepper may have on the nervous system is still undetermined, though.
Want to give it a try? You can inhale the black pepper essential oil in one of two ways: directly, either poured onto a tissue or other absorbent surface or through a diffuser. Try to make a conscious effort to inhale its spicy goodness at least once a day.
3. Tones Down Skin Blemishes
With its coarse texture, the black pepper plant makes a great exfoliant for ridding your epidermis of dead skin cells. It stimulates blood circulation for better, healthier skin by delivering more oxygen and nutrients to your trouble spots.
Want to give it a try? Ground some peppercorns up as finely as possible using a food processor or by hand if you prefer. Mix a pinch of pepper into your favorite face mask (or make your own) and layer it on!
4. Shows Promise for Breast Cancer Prevention
Piperine, which is also responsible for the potency of the spice, was found to be effective in its ability to limit the growth of breast stem cells in a lab study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan. The same was found with curcumin. It can also help prevent the development of cancerous cells in the breast.
The spice hasn’t undergone clinical studies just yet, but this is promising research.
Want to give it a try? Let’s not forget the most obvious way to use black pepper powder: just add this ingredient to your meals.
These surprising health benefits of black pepper cover major health advantages from improving a damaged nervous system to cancer prevention, which is noteworthy to highlight. If you are interested in trying any of these black pepper hacks at home, it’s best to consult your doctor for proper medical guidance since these health advantages are still under research.
What other surprising health benefits of black pepper can you add to the list above? Share them in the comments section.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 27, 2015, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.