Scientifically-Proven Potential Health Benefits of Black pepper
Native to Kerala, India, Black Pepper(Piper Nigrum) is one of the most popular spices used and revered in India. It is an immensely popular ingredient used in various Indian cooking having number of health benefits like quick digestion, relief in cold and cough and weight loss, while providing an excellent depth of flavor to any dish. The chemical piperine, present in black pepper, causes the spiciness.
It is a flowering vine of the family Piperaceae, having shiny green leaves and bears small flowers in dense spikes. There are 3 important varieties of the Pepper plant which are used. The 1st variety being the Black Peppercorns are a cooked and dried, unripe fruit of the plant. The White peppercorns are a dried, ripe, fruit seeds of the tree and the green peppercorns are quite perishable and can be kept in a freezer. Its again a dried, unripe fruit of the tree. Its extensively cultivated in the tropical regions.
Pepper has been the most valuable and widely traded spice in the world and been so for more than 3000 years. The Middle East and Far west needed this magic herd to spice and preserve their food. It had catalyzed the spice trade, leading to the exploration of undiscovered lands, development of merchant cities in the Middle East and Europe. Black Pepper in its prime time, was more expensive than Gold.
Below are few Scientifically-proven potential health benefits of black pepper:
- Prevents Cancer: The Piperine in black pepper is twice as potent when combined with turmeric. The spice also has Vitamin C, Vitamin A, flavonoids, carotenes and other anti-oxidants that help remove harmful free radicals and protect the body from cancers and other life-threatening diseases. The best way to eat pepper to harness maximum benefits is to eat freshly ground pepper and not cook it along with food.
- Stimulates digestion: It is an extremely potent spice which helps in quick digestion and addresses digestive problems. Again, the Piperine in black pepper eases digestion and stimulates the stomach, which then secretes more hydrochloric acid that helps to digest proteins in food. A bit of pepper in food will actually help you to digest it faster.
- Relieves cold and cough: Black pepper is antibacterial in nature, and therefore helps to cure cold and cough. A teaspoon of honey with freshly crushed pepper does the trick. It also helps to alleviate chest congestion, often caused due to pollution, flu, or a viral infection. You can add it to hot water and eucalyptus oil and take steam. Black pepper is rich in Vitamin C hence also works as a good antibiotic.
- Supports weight loss: Black pepper is brilliant when it comes to extracting nutrients from food. And its outermost layer contains phytonutrients, which helps to break down fat cells, and also increases metabolism. If you eat fresh pepper, and begin to perspire, that's the pepper helping your body to get rid of excess water and toxins. One needs to control consumption - a pinch with your food (one meal) is enough.
- Improves skin: Crushed pepper is considered as one of the best skins curing ingredients and natural exfoliators nature has provided us. Mixing it with a dash of honey, curd, or fresh cream to it enhances glow on the face, enables blood circulation, and provides the skin with more oxygen. Black pepper is known to help in the cure of Vitiligo, a condition where the skin loses pigmentation and creates white patches.
- Treats depression: It's said that the piperine in black pepper helps to deal with depression. It stimulates the brain and helps it to function properly by activating it.
- Rich in Vitamins and minerals: It is rich in potassium which helps in controlling the heart rate and is useful in regulating blood pressure. It is also rich in iron and is useful in combating low blood pressure. It is useful in the production of red blood cells, rich in manganese and is an antioxidant enzyme. It has all types vitamin B such as riboflavin, thiamine, niacin which aids in various metabolic functions. Black pepper is one of the rich sources of calcium, and hence, benefits old people. They can get a good amount of calcium for their bones.