Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) is a perennial, flowering plant whose fruit has been used for centuries for human consumption as a spice and because of its medicinal properties. Black pepper has been the most traded product on the world market of spices throughout history, and today it is one of the most commercial tropical cultures. It was used for tax payment, even wars were fought for this spice as its value was higher than the value of gold. The characteristic smell and taste of pepper come from the piperine compound found in the fruits.
Although there are over 100 types of peppers in nature, the most famous classification of this spice on the market is on: black, white, green and red pepper. This division is based on the method of preparing pepper fruits rather than on the basis of the plant species.
Black pepper is unavoidable in the preparation of dishes, but it is especially important that since ancient times, it has been used in traditional medicine as a herbal remedy. Black pepper exhibits antibacterial and mild anti-inflammatory effects, it stimulates the movement of food through the digestive tract and facilitates digestion, stimulating metabolism and eliminating excess fluids from the body. Some studies have shown that pepper contains phytochemicals with strong antioxidant action that prevent the occurrence of damage caused by the action of free radicals.
Nutrition facts of Black pepper
Black Pepper is a very good source of fibers, iron, manganese, potassium, and vitamin K. Black pepper contains carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and phytosterols. Other micronutrients are copper, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, selenium, folic acid, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin C, choline and betaine. In one spoon, that contains about six grams of ground black pepper we can find 4.1 g of carbohydrates (1% of daily needs), 1.7 g of fibers (7%), 0.7 g proteins (1%), 0.2 g of total 0.7 mg of copper (4%), 27.3 mg of calcium (3%), 12.1 mg of magnesium (3%), 0.4 mg of manganese (18%), 0.1 mg of copper ), 10.8 mg sodium (1%), 78.7 mg potassium (2%), 0.2 mcg selenium, 0.1 mg zinc (1%), 0.6 mcg folic acid, 0.001 mg vitamin B2 (1% ), 0.1 mg Vitamin B3, 0.001 mg Vitamin B6 (1%), 18.7 IU Vitamin A, 1.3 mg Vitamin C (2%), 10.2 μg Vitamin K (13%), 0.7 mg choline, 0.6 mg betaine 5.7 mg phytosterols.
The influence of black pepper on health
Black pepper contains a number of compounds with antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents that enable the preservation of health and the treatment of diseases. Thanks to phytochemicals with a medicinal effect, it can improve digestion, cognitive function, ease weight loss, reduce the risk of malignant changes, lower high blood pressure, affect blood sugar level regulation, relieve respiratory problems, prevent caries and fight its bacteria.
Black pepper increases the production and secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which improves digestion and facilitates the digestion of food. Hydrochloric acid is an important component of gastric juice that prepares food for the passage through the intestines and allows the absorption of nutrients. It is thought that piperine in black pepper is the one that affects the increase in the release of hydrochloric acid. Pepper also strengthens the digestive tract, which reduces the time it takes to process and transport food.
Eases the loss of excess weight
Black pepper has thermogenic properties that can stimulate basal metabolism and influence the increase in heat production, which together can lead to the elimination of excess fat. Piperine in black pepper also improves metabolism and induces the differentiation of fat cells resulting in weight loss.
Improves cognitive function
According to a study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology 2010, in which it has been shown that piperine in black pepper can improve cognitive function, protect the brain against neurodegeneration and reduce memory damage in rats with Alzheimer’s disease. It is thought that it can prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease by curing damaged neurons and hippocampus in the brain.
Relieves breathing problems
Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and expectorant effects of black pepper can help in the treatment of respiratory diseases such as asthma, difficulty breathing, sinusitis, nasal congestion, coughing and colds. Piperine in black pepper can also inhibit the development of bacteria that cause respiratory infections.
Regulating blood sugar levels
Antioxidant properties of black pepper can help in treating diabetes and stabilizing blood sugar levels. Namely, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the US in 2016 found that piperine helps regulate muscular tissue metabolism in a state of rest, which can help diabetics and ease the loss of body weight. A study published in the West Indian Medical Journal of 2015 found that black pepper inhibits two enzymes that break down starch into glucose, which can have a positive effect on blood glucose regulation and reduce glucose uptake. A second study, published in the Advances in Pharmacological Sciences, 2013, found that anti-oxidants in black pepper essential oil can help in fight type 2 diabetes.