Black pepper, scientifically called Piper nigrum, is one of the most popular spices used to increase the flavor of foods. It grows on a flowering vine, which belongs to the family Piperaceae. The plant grows in hot and humid tropical climates and goes up to a height of 33 feet. In a span of 3 to 4 years, the plant starts bearing small white clustered flowers, which develop into berries known as peppercorns. The berries are picked when they are half ripe and just about to turn red. These peppercorns are then dried, which makes them shrivel and turn dark in color, to form black pepper. Black pepper is available in whole, cracked as well as powder form. It has been a principal spice in India since the pre-historic time. In ancient Greece, black pepper was used as a currency and a sacred offering. Pepper was used both to pay respect to Gods as well as to pay the taxes and ransoms. In the Middle Ages, it became a sign of wealth. After the Middle Ages, the cultivation of pepper spread from India to Europe, Middle East and North Africa. By the 16th century, pepper cultivation expanded to Java, Sunda, Sumatra, Madagascar, Malaysia, and many parts of Southeast Asia. Today, India and Indonesia are the major commercial producers of black pepper. With this article, we will help you explore the benefits of black pepper.
Health Benefits Of Eating Black Pepper
- Black pepper helps in improving digestion. It stimulates the taste buds to send an alert to stomach to secrete higher quantity of hydrochloric acid. The hydrochloric acid, in turn, boosts up the digestion of proteins and other food components in the stomach.
- As black pepper helps in improving digestion, simultaneously it improves the appetite.
- Piperine is an alkaloid present in black pepper, which improves the bioavailability of some nutritional substances and drugs.
- It is highly effective against cancer. The phytochemical piperine, present in black pepper, restrains some of the pro-inflammatory cytokines that are produced by tumor cells. This interferes with the signaling mechanisms between cancer cells, as a result of which the chances of tumor progression get reduced.
- Black pepper prevents bacterial growth in the intestinal tract. It also acts as the carminative that helps prevent intestinal gas formation. It is even helpful in fighting against diarrhea and constipation.
- The pepper has been identified as having diaphoretic properties, which help promote sweating in the body. It also has the diuretic properties, which are associated with the promotion of urination.
- Black pepper is rich with antioxidant and antibacterial effects, which makes it beneficial for the digestive tract.
- The outer layer of black pepper stimulates the breakdown of fat cells. This helps in maintaining good health, while continuously providing energy to burn.
- Black pepper is highly influential in lessening the condition of hemorrhoids.
- High consumption of black pepper can cause mucosal micro bleeding and in some cases, even gastric bleeding.
- The piperine content in black pepper may interfere with reproductive process in men and can have negative effects on the sperm.
- Black pepper is recorded in the Environmental Working Group's 2009 report "Shopper's Guide to Pesticides" as one of the 12 foods commonly containing pesticide residues.
- Black pepper should be added to the meal at the end of the cooking process. This is because it loses its flavor and aroma when cooked for longer times. So, it is advisable to put it in the dish when the cooking is almost done.
- The pepper tends to lose its flavor and aroma by evaporation. So, always keep it in an airtight container, to preserve its spiciness.
- Black pepper can lose its flavor if exposed to light. Light transforms its piperine content into nearly tasteless isochavicine. So, make sure to preserve it in dark containers.
- The pepper has a tendency to lose flavor and aroma immediately after being ground. So, it is advisable to grind it just before adding it to the food.