Black pepper is one of the very good flavour enhancers to whichever recipe it is added. This king of spices which was once used as currency and offered to God as sacred offerings, host more health benefits than one could imagine. So, the next time you think of consigning black pepper to the back of your shelf, think twice.
Black pepper and its nutritional facts:
Black pepper is a fruit of black pepper plant, a smooth woody vine that grows in hot and humid tropical climates. It is used as a spice and also as a medicine. The active component, piperine which is present in black pepper gives its characteristic taste. Black pepper is also a rich source of minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, Zinc and vitamins such as riboflavin, vitamin C, vitamin K, B6. It has a high content of dietary fibre and a moderate amount of carbohydrates and proteins.
Health Benefits of Black Pepper:
1. Increases nutrients absorption:
Piperine stimulates amino acids transporters in the intestinal lining and inhibits enzymes that help in metabolizing nutrients. It also prevents unnecessary removal of substances from cells and reduces intestinal activity. This helps in the entrance of substances which are inactive form and are easily available and accessible to the body. This, in turn, enhances bioavailability of various nutrients like vitamins A and C, selenium, beta-carotene, etc.
2. Stimulates Appetite and Improves Digestion:
Black pepper acts appetite stimulant through olfactory stimulation. This helps for those with a poor appetite. Black pepper also increases secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach by stimulating the taste buds. This helps in proper digestion and avoids the health problems like bloating, constipation, colic, indigestion and flatulence.
3. Facilitates Weight Loss:
Black peppercorns, being a brilliant extractor of nutrients from food, contain phytonutrients in the outermost layer which helps in breaking down the fat cells. The broken down fat cells could be easily processed and used in the body. This facilitates in weight loss. Also, Black pepper being a diuretic and diaphoretic herb, promotes urination and perspiration. This helps in flushing out the toxins and excess water from the body.
4. Clears Congestion:
Black pepper could be used to clear up a stuffy nose or congestion or sinusitis. It has an expectorant property that helps break down mucus and phlegm depositions in the respiratory tract. The natural irritant behaviour of break pepper helps in expelling it by sneezing or coughing.
5. Combats Arthritis:
The anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties of black pepper are beneficial in treating arthritis. It improves circulation, thereby preventing and reducing joint pain caused by poor circulation. It also reduces the pain perception and arthritic symptoms.
6. Fights Cancer and Prevents other diseases:
Free radicals are produced as byproducts of cellular metabolism. These radicals could attack healthy cells and mutate the DNA causing cancerous cells. Antioxidant property of black pepper neutralizes these harmful compounds and protects the body against premature ageing, cancer (particularly colon and breast cancer). Also, the black pepper protects against diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
7. Natural Anti-depressant:
The Piperine in black pepper is an antidepressant which increases the production of serotonin. It is a neurotransmitter that helps in mood regulation. Piperine also promotes mental clarity by increasing beta-endorphins in the brain. This acts as natural painkillers and mood elevators by reducing stress and promoting wellness feeling. This, in turn, helps in reducing memory impairment and improving cognitive functioning.
8. Treats Teeth and Gum Problems:
Due to anti-inflammatory property of black pepper, it could be used along with salt to reduce gum pain and inflammation. It also treats other problems like bad breath and bleeding gums.
9. Skin Care:
Piperine in black pepper helps in curing a skin condition called vitiligo, where the skin loses its pigmentation and creates white patches, by stimulating the skin to produce melanocytes pigment. The crushed pepper along with a bit of honey, curd or fresh cream acts as excellent exfoliators. It enables blood circulation and provides glowing skin by supplying more oxygen.
10. Prevents Asthma:
Due to anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties, black pepper acts as a good treatment for asthma.