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10 Surprising Health Benefits Of Black Pepper [INFOGRAPHIC]

From boosting weight loss to fighting free radicals, these are the black pepper benefits you need to know.

RELATED: Turmeric: The Super-Root Could Save You Money (And A Trip To The Pharmacy)

In this article:

  1. Salt and Pepper as the Classic Duo for Boosting Flavor
    1. Can Curb the Need for a Cigarette
    2. May Improve a Damaged Nervous System
    3. Tones Down Skin Blemishes
    4. Shows Promise for Breast Cancer Prevention
  2. 6 More Black Pepper Benefits to Surprise You
    1. Increased Production of Hydrochloric Acid
    2. Blood Pressure Control
    3. Increased Curcumin Absorption
    4. Sore Throat Relief
    5. Elimination of Cancer-Causing Chemicals
    6. Weight Loss
  3. Going Beyond Black Pepper Benefits with These Facts
    1. Black Pepper Is Actually a Fruit
    2. Black Peppers Are Different from Chili Peppers
    3. These Peppers Have Vitamins

Remarkable Black Pepper Benefits You Didn’t Know

Salt and Pepper as the Classic Duo for Boosting Flavor

Wooden spoons on a table with salt and pepper
Want to learn more about what the black pepper benefits are? 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, beginning with flavor.

For example, 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.

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. It 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 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

An elderly couple smiles while in the park
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 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 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 breasts.

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.

RELATED: Why Your Diet Should Include A Healthy Dose of This Superspice

6 More Black Pepper Benefits to Surprise You

Can’t get enough of those four? Indeed, there are many ways to answer the question, “Is black pepper good for your health?”

Here are six black pepper benefits you also need to know:

1. Increased Production of Hydrochloric Acid

Black pepper not only enhances the taste of your favorite dishes—it also improves your digestion.

One of the benefits of pepper is its stimulation of the production of hydrochloric acid. When you consume black pepper, the taste buds send signals to the stomach to create more of these acids.

This acid is necessary for the efficient breakdown of proteins and other nutrients. It also prevents food from spending too much time in your stomach, causing indigestion or bloating.

Improving the absorption of nutrients also stops food from traveling prematurely to the small intestines. There, bad bacteria may feast on them, and this leads to digestive symptoms such as diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

2. Blood Pressure Control

Are you one of those who ask, “Is black pepper bad for your heart?” or “Is black pepper bad for high blood pressure?”

The answer is: it’s not. On the contrary, one of the black pepper benefits is blood pressure control.

In a 2010 animal research, mice that received piperine experienced a reduction of high blood pressure within the third week of treatment. This was achieved by working against the pathways of substances that induce hypertension.

This information is vital in relation to cardiovascular health. Hypertension can increase the risk of heart disease as it forces the cardiac muscle to pump harder over time.

When high blood pressure drops, you can then reduce these odds. Note, though, that the reduction of blood pressure may be significant.

Before you consume black pepper, talk with your doctor, especially if you’re taking hypertension medications.

Note: There’s a berry that can complement black pepper, Schisandra berries, which you can find in Rising Energy. They help the body produce nitric oxide that dilates the vessels for proper blood flow.

3. Increased Curcumin Absorption

Adding turmeric into your dishes not only elevates taste and flavor. You can also take advantage of a long list of benefits of its active ingredient called curcumin.

The problem is the body doesn’t use it as effectively as it should. To get past that, you may want to combine curcumin with black pepper.

In one of the landmark studies on black pepper health benefits, this spice can increase the absorption or bioavailability of curcumin by as much as 2,000%.

The piperine in black pepper allows curcumin to break through the intestinal walls and enter the bloodstream.

4. Sore Throat Relief

One of the essential black pepper benefits is in preventing some common illnesses such as cold and cough as well as a sore throat.

Like cayenne pepper, black pepper is a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce the effects of inflammation. In the process, it helps boost the immune system.

In a study conducted among mice, those who consumed a high-fat diet with black pepper reduced their markers that contribute to cellular damage. It did so in 10 weeks of following this diet alone.

5. Elimination of Cancer-Causing Chemicals

Do you love to grill your meat and veggies? While the cooking process gives your dishes a lovely taste and texture, it may also lead to the formation of cancer-causing chemicals that introduces or worsens a disease.

If you can’t avoid grilling, you might as well “pepper” (no pun intended) the spice into your meat. A Kansas State University study cited one of the important black pepper benefits.

The spice almost wiped out heterocyclic amines (HCAs). These by-products of cooking muscled meat in high temperatures can potentially change the DNA, which increases your cancer risk.

6. Weight Loss

Another of the growing list of advantages of black pepper is weight loss. A 2012 study revealed the spice, especially its piperine, reduces the likelihood of fat cell differentiation.

In other words, it prevents the body from converting precursor cells or into fat cells or adipocytes.

Going Beyond Black Pepper Benefits with These Facts

These Piper nigrum health benefits should make you appreciate this spice even more! There’s so much to learn about the spice beginning with these facts:

1. Black Pepper Is Actually a Fruit

Despite their taste, black peppers are fruits—they’re even berries! They also come in a variety of colors such as black, green, and white.

They differ in the way manufacturers or growers process them. For example, crushed pepper you use for cooking is from a dried berry.

Meanwhile, to produce white peppercorns, you remove the outer layer, which turns black during drying. This then leaves the white inner seed.

2. Black Peppers Are Different from Chili Peppers

Herbs and spices can be confusing, including black pepper and chili pepper. Both are different, though.

For one, chili has capsaicin, which is responsible for its spiciness or hotness. Black pepper has piperine as its active compound.

3. These Peppers Have Vitamins

Black pepper benefits extend beyond piperine and antioxidant properties. They are also rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

Two teaspoons of freshly ground pepper may contain:

Don’t forget to download, save, or share this handy infographic for reference:

Learn the health benefits of black pepper in this video:

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 below.

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 27, 2015, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.