Originating from the pepper plant, black pepper is an excellent source of a variety of critical nutrients that are necessary for our health. In addition to being delicious, black pepper has been used for centuries as a medicinal agent in a variety of cultures. Today, researchers recognize black pepper as having a variety of health benefits, making it an excellent addition to just about any dish.
1. Improves Ability to Absorb Nutrients
Pepper is known to increase the availability of a number of important nutrients for your body, including beta-carotene, vitamin A, and selenium. Pepper also stimulates our taste buds, alerting the digestive system to increase the production of acid in our stomach, and improving our ability to digest foods. Without sufficient gastric acid, food may spend extra time in the stomach, which can cause indigestion or heartburn.
2. Prevents Upset Digestive System
Food that’s under-digested may even pass into the intestines under-digested, which can then allow it to be used as food for gut bacteria, leading to irritated bowels, diarrhea, gas, and constipation. Black pepper also has considerable diuretic, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant properties.
3. A Natural Antidepressant
Piperine, one of the parts of the peppercorn plant, has actually proven to be an effective natural antidepressant by increasing the production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is necessary to help regulate your mood, and low levels are correlated with depression.
4. Battles Arthritis
Black pepper has also proven an effective aid in the battle against arthritis thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Pepper is also said to improve circulation, which can cause arthritis pain to further decrease, and may even reduce the perception of pain.
5. Weight Loss
The outer layer of the peppercorn plant can actually assist the body in breaking down fat cells, which makes it a good way to lose weight. Anytime fat cells can be broken down, it’s easier for the body to burn that energy for day-to-day activities.
6. Appetite Stimulant
Apart from adding a distinctive flavor to a dish, black pepper has proven an effective appetite stimulant. Researchers have found that the olfactory stimulation provided by pepper can help provide sustained improvements in appetite for anyone with a regular source in their diet.
7. Cancer Prevention
Research from the University of Michigan has found that one of the compounds found in pepper, piperine, can help fight the development of breast cancer. These anti-cancer properties are especially notable when paired with turmeric, a spicy herb native to southwest India.
8. Promotes Healthy Skin
Apart from what pepper can do for you when you ingest it, pepper is also useful in skincare. If you want a smoother complexion, a little pepper may be all you need. This is because pepper can stimulate circulation and oxygen for your skin. It can also act to exfoliate, wiping away dead skin cells and helping the skin underneath breathe. Just combine a cup of sugar with half a cup of massage oil, and a pinch of pepper, stir it together, and rub the mixture directly onto your skin.
9. Provides Relief from Cold
Among its other remarkable properties, pepper is a natural decongestant. By irritating your mucus membranes, pepper can induce you to have a runny nose, which can help clear the nasal passage. Adding a few pinches of pepper to soup is all you need to help find yourself breathing easier the next time you have a cold.
It’s still worth noting that pepper may cause sneezing, and those who have recently had abdominal surgery should avoid pepper to prevent irritating their intestines. It should also be avoided in high concentrations even in those with a healthy gut, for the same reason. However, in moderation, a dash of pepper may be all you need to see considerable health benefits.