5 Surprising Health Benefits of Black Pepper

James Colquhoun JAMES COLQUHOUN

What superfood spices are hiding in your cupboard? 

I know when asked that, my brain always goes to the most complicated spices like sumac and turmeric, or sometimes I’ll remember the health benefits of chili and cumin. I can probably even tell you the benefits of quite a few standouts on my spice shelf. Yet somehow, there’s one that always gets overlooked.

Cracked black pepper is a staple on almost any table, and for good reason. It enhances the flavor of most dishes, it’s incredibly versatile and it’s packed with incredibly health-promoting benefits because of the compounds it brings to the table. Here are 5 of my favorites.

1. Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants are still some of the biggest buzz-compounds found in our diet; people love them, and for good reason. Within the body, we find free radicals, which are molecules that damage the body’s cells - some are natural, and some are not. Many free radicals are caused by factors such as pollution, cigarette smoking, and even the foods we eat. These free radicals have been shown to lead to increased inflammation, premature aging, heart disease, and even some cancers. Antioxidants, on the other hand, fight free radicals by nature - and they always come out on top. So having a diet rich in antioxidants is one of the best remedies money can by (especially if it’s something as simple as black pepper).

2. Has Potent Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Another branch of health that we know to be true surrounds chronic inflammation and the idea that almost all chronic inflammation can flow into chronic disease. While inflammation is an entirely natural reaction in the body to help recover from an acute injury, long-term inflammation can cause damage to cells within that region. Black pepper has been shown to be a powerful anti-inflammatory, most notably mentioning the compound piperine, which typically supports anti-inflammatory action.

3. Boosts Absorption of Essential Nutrients

You can best think of pepper as the person that helps you unpack the groceries from the car - it takes the goods and gets the hardest part of the job done. Piperine, that marvellous compound found in pepper, helps to transport and deliver essential nutrients to where they are needed. Essential minerals calcium and selenium are enhanced by the consumption of black pepper, alongside our wellness favorites, green tea and turmeric (we’re always told to enjoy our turmeric with cracked black pepper remember).

4. Promotes Thriving Gut Health

In the health and wellness field we’re seeing increasing attention to the role of gut health in overall health. In fact, it is now widely accepted that the health of our gut microbiome directly impacts health throughout our body - from cognitive health to robust immunity. Recently there has been sufficient evidence to suggest that increased uptake of black pepper will lead to an increase in healthy gut bacteria, meaning healthier humans overall.

5. May Improve Blood Sugar Control

Blood sugar control is a big one. With diabetes and other blood sugar-related conditions now being one of the largest burdens on the American healthcare system (pandemics aside), finding natural solutions to these issues will be paramount. Black pepper has not only been show to improve blood sugar metabolism, but trials with extract treatments have shown smaller spikes in blood sugar levels after eating glucose (this indicates that eating pepper with your meals is a good thing)! Additionally, trials using piperine supplements have shown to improve insulin sensitivity.

So now that you’re convinced on the case of cracked black pepper, how do you intend to use it?

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