This everyday spice is good for more than just seasoning your food. Discover the health benefits of black pepper in our latest blog post.
One of the most common spices, black pepper is found in kitchens and on dining tables around the world. But this popular spice is not just great for adding a little extra sharpness to your meals.
Black pepper also brings a wealth of health benefits. From combatting inflammation to lowering cholesterol, there are plenty of reasons to make sure black pepper plays a regular part in our diets.
Many of the health benefits of black pepper come from the active compounds it contains, especially one called piperine. An alkaloid, piperine is a powerful antioxidant that protects against inflammation and helps our bodies absorb other beneficial nutrients too.
In this blog post, we’ll explore more of the health benefits of black pepper and how we can all make sure we’re getting more of it in our daily diets.
1. Packed with Antioxidants
As we’ve already started to explore, black pepper is rich in compounds that have an antioxidative effect on our bodies. This means they help to protect our cells against damage by free radicals – which is linked with several chronic diseases.
As well as piperine, black pepper contains a range of flavonoids that act as antioxidants.
2. Combats Inflammation
The piperine in black pepper also acts as an anti-inflammatory, which is one of the reasons this spice is often recommended for people with arthritis (especially when combined with turmeric – more on this below).
Studies show that piperine suppresses the body’s inflammatory response. In turn, this can ease the joint pain and swelling associated with rheumatoid arthritis. It may also reduce the swelling of the airways that occurs in asthma patients or those who suffer from seasonal allergies.
3. Aids Absorption of Other Nutrients
You may spot black pepper (or its active ingredient, piperine) used in combination with turmeric in herbal tea blends and natural supplements. The reason? Piperine helps our bodies absorb other nutrients, including the curcumin that makes turmeric such a sought-after spice.
Curcumin has a powerful antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effect on our bodies, but it is difficult for us to absorb. However, when we add piperine to the mix, it increases the bioavailability of curcumin by around 2000%. That’s why we combine the two in many of our blends, including NutraJoint, which is aimed at reducing joint pain and managing inflammation.
4. Supports the Digestion
Perhaps black pepper has become so popular for seasoning our food because of the effect it has on our digestion. This pungent spice helps to stimulate the digestive enzymes of the pancreas, which means we can digest our food more easily.
In some traditional healing systems, black pepper is also used to treat digestive complaints like diarrhoea. In Ayurveda, for example, black pepper is recommended to reduce flatulence and ease constipation. And, of course, we’ve already seen how black pepper can help our bodies absorb other beneficial nutrients.
5. Improves Brain Function
Another health benefit of black pepper is its impact on brain health and cognitive function. Studies show that black pepper can help to improve memory and protect against dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Again, this brain-protecting effect is likely down to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties of piperine and other active compounds found in black pepper.
6. Lowers Cholesterol and Fat Absorption
While we’re on the topic of protecting our health, another way black pepper may benefit us is by helping us look after our hearts. Researchers have found that taking black pepper can reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Since LDL cholesterol is associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, getting more black pepper in our diets might help to protect our heart health.
There’s also some evidence that black pepper might support weight loss and reduce body fat percentage by preventing our bodies from absorbing as much fat from our diets.
7. Helps with Blood Sugar Control
Black pepper may also help with blood sugar management, including in cases of diabetes. It appears to increase insulin sensitivity, which means our bodies are better able to regulate the levels of sugar in our blood.
The piperine in black pepper also helps to prevent spikes in blood sugar levels. In the short-term, blood sugar spikes can leave us feeling irritable, tired, or craving sugary foods. In the long term, repeated spikes can affect our health and increase our risk of heart disease or diabetes. So, being able to stabilise our blood sugar is a definite health benefit.
How to Get More Black Pepper in Your Diet
Some of us love to season every meal with black pepper, while others use a more careful hand. Whichever side of the fence you’re on, it is unlikely you’ll be adding enough black pepper to your food to make a noticeable difference to your health.
As you may have guessed, simply adding extra black pepper to your food is probably not the answer. This little spice packs a powerful punch of flavour, and you want to be able to enjoy your meals still.
Fortunately, there are other ways you can get more black pepper in your diet. As well as using it (in moderation) as a seasoning on your food, you can seek out herbal supplements that contain black pepper or piperine.
Powders and capsules are both an option, but we find the most enjoyable way to increase our black pepper intake is to include it in our functional herbal tea blends.
This allows us to combine it with other herbs and spices that have complementary benefits for our health.
For example, you’ll find piperine as one of the main ingredients in NutraJoint, our tea for joint health and mobility. We’ve paired it with green tea and curcumin since piperine helps our bodies to absorb these more easily.
We also use piperine to increase the bioavailability of the other active ingredients in NutraUric, our tea blend aimed at reducing uric acid and inflammation associated with gout.
When it comes to fat burning and overall weight management, we love to enjoy black pepper in NutraTrim, where it joins other herbs that support the digestion and boost the metabolism.