(Natural News) Black pepper comes from black peppercorns — a tiny fruit of the flowering vine called Piper nigrum. It was hailed as the “King of Spices” by traders hundreds of years ago and was also considered as a luxury item in medieval Europe. Today, it is not only used for cooking, but also for medicine because of its powerful active ingredient called piperine. Black pepper offers the following health benefits:
- Aids in digestion: Black pepper aids in digestion by promoting the release of hydrochloric acid. A component in hydrochloric acid called gastric acid prepares food for digestion and absorption in the intestine. In addition, black pepper contains piperine, which can also help produce gastric acid. Consuming black pepper can help get rid of gas, indigestion, and heartburn.
- Boosts cognitive function: In a study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, black pepper’s piperine has also been reported to enhance cognitive function, prevent neurodegeneration, and slow memory impairment in a rat model of Alzheimer’s disease. It is believed to heal nerve damage and memory decline in the hippocampus of the brain, thereby preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Helps in weight loss: This spice also possesses thermogenic properties which can promote basal metabolism and produce more heat — helping to suppress fat buildup. In addition, its piperine content also enhances metabolism and induces fat cell differentiation, leading to weight loss. In a study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology, researchers discovered that piperine supplementation in rats fed with high-fat diets resulted in significantly reduced body weight, fat mass, triglycerides, total cholesterol, very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. (Related: Black pepper could help fight obesity: Research shows it lowers body fat and blood sugar.)
- Helps maintain oral health: In Ayurvedic medicine, massaging your gums with black pepper is believed to help prevent dental problems, such as toothaches and pyorrhea, because of the spice’s disinfectant properties.
- Lowers blood pressure: The piperine in black pepper lowers blood pressure by calcium channel blockade. In one study of nitric-oxide-deprived rats, researchers discovered that it could reduce the severity of hypertension brought about by oxidative stress. Another study showed that black pepper can help treat high blood pressure through its phenolic and antioxidant content.
- Treats diabetes: Black pepper can help treat diabetes because of its antioxidant properties. Its piperine content aids in increasing the metabolic rate of resting muscle which can treat diabetes and fight obesity, according to a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Black pepper, particularly its oil, naturally inhibits two enzymes that metabolize starch into glucose, according to a West Indian Medical Journal study. This, in turn, helps control blood sugar and slow glucose absorption.
- Treats respiratory ailments: Black pepper also has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and expectorant properties which are all helpful for respiratory problems, such as asthma, colds, coughs, labored breathing, nasal congestion, and sinusitis.
- Wards off cancer: Piperine exhibits antitumor activity, helping to prevent and treat various cancers, such as breast cancer, colorectal cancer, melanoma, osteosarcoma, and prostate cancer. It can inhibit the activity and growth of cancer cells as well as a induce cancer cell death.
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Black pepper is very versatile. You can simply add it to almost any dish, salad dressings, soups, sauces, and dips. This herb, which has a subtle zesty and spicy flavor, will not overpower the dish’s original flavor but will enhance it instead.
Find out more about black pepper’s health benefits by going to Herbs.news.