Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is a flowering vine cultivated for the fruit of the same name and is known for its unique taste and aroma. It is loaded with essential nutrients that provide several health and beauty benefits.
Dried pepper is also known as peppercorn and is available in three varieties black, green and white. Once the pepper is dried, it is used as a spice and for food seasoning.
Black pepper is native to South India and other parts of South Asia and has been used in Indian kitchens for centuries. Pepper is one of the most widely exported spices from India.
Health Benefits of Black Pepper
Some major health benefits of black pepper are as follows:-
(1) Reduces The Risk Of Various Cancers
Piperine, an antioxidantal compound present in the black pepper protects our cells and tissues from free radical damage, and thus reduces the risk of various cancers.
As per a Canadian study, piperine reduces oxidative stress from the rectum and thus minimizes the risk of colon cancer. It is also effective against prostate cancer. It also enhances the performance of docetaxel, a chemotherapy medication used for prostate cancer treatment.
Piperine is also known for increasing the absorption of essential nutrients like selenium, curcumin, beta-carotene, and vitamin B complex, etc in our intestines, and thus improves our intestinal health and further minimizes the risk of digestive tract related cancers.
(2) Promotes Digestive Health
Black pepper stimulates digestive juices and digestive enzymes, and thus promotes better digestion.
The piperine, an antioxidantal compound in the black pepper increases the absorption of essential nutrients from the meal, and as well as protects the digestive system from free radical damage.
As per studies, adding black pepper to the diet shows a positive impact on the pancreatic enzymes and improves overall digestion.
Because of its carminative properties, black pepper relieves stomach gas and is also effective against flatulence and colicky pain.
The laxative properties of the dietary fibers in black pepper improves bowel movement, provides relief from constipation and other gastrointestinal problems like abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, gas, bloating and flatulence, etc.
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(3) Prevents Hypertension
Potassium, a vital mineral present in the black pepper is a natural vasodilator that relaxes our blood vessels, improves blood circulation, and thus provides relief from high blood pressure or hypertension.
Hypertension is a silent killer that affects millions of people around the world and is a prime cause of cardiovascular problems like heart attack, heart stroke, and coronary artery diseases.
Piperine in the black pepper also aids in reducing blood pressure levels.
With that being said, if you are already taking medication for regulating blood pressure levels then you should consult with your healthcare provider about the inclusion of black pepper in your diet.
(4) Relieves Cold And Cough
Because of their anti-microbial properties, apricots stimulate the flow and circulation of the mucous, and thus provides relief from cold and cough.
To get relief from cough and cold, take one cup of boiling water and add a teaspoon of powdered black pepper and two tablespoons of honey to it. Mix them properly and cover the water-filled cup. Let it steep for 15 minutes, and then strain and drink the water sip by sip.
Using this remedy thrice a day clears out congestion and sinuses and provides relief from cough and cold.
The anti-inflammatory properties of the black pepper provide relief from asthma and other respiratory ailments like whooping cough and bronchial asthma etc.
(5) Promotes Weight Loss
Black pepper is beneficial for weight loss as it aids in getting rid of the stubborn fat that accumulates in our body.
The piperine in the black pepper controls the formation of fat cells and thus contributes to weight management.
Adding a simple dash of black pepper and squeezing a lemon on your favorite chicken or grilled vegetable is a better alternative to calorie-heavy Italian dressing.
One teaspoon of black pepper contains 8 calories of energy which is very low in comparison to calorie-laden Italian dressings available in the market.
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(6) Provides Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Piperine, an anti-inflammatory compound present in the black pepper provides relief from pain and inflammation caused by inflammatory diseases like arthritis, rheumatism, rheumatoid, gouts, asthma, and bronchial asthma.
Studies conducted on rats with arthritis found that piperine reduced swelling of the joints, and also lowered blood markers of the inflammation.
In another study on mice, it was observed that piperine reduced the inflammation of the airways caused by asthma and seasonal allergies.
(7) Provides Antioxidantal Benefits
Piperine and other antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients and polyphenols etc in the black pepper combats against the free radicals in our body stabilize them and prevent them from causing oxidative damage to our cells and thus minimizes the risk of various cancers.
It also provides other benefits like reduced inflammation, keeping premature aging at bay, keeping eyes healthy, improving cardiovascular benefit, etc.
Phenolic compounds in the black pepper also provide several benefits.
Piperine is also known for increasing the bioavailability of nutrients in various foods and supplements. It can increase the absorption of curcumin in turmeric by up to 2000%.
(8) Boost Immunity
Our immune system is a sophisticated defense mechanism in our body that aids in the protection and treatment of various microbial infections, diseases, and injuries.
Piperine and other antioxidantal compounds in the black pepper protect our immune cells aka white blood cells from free radical damage, and thus strengthens our immune system.
When our immune system is stronger, we are less likely to be infected by microbial infections, and our risk of getting cough, cold, and fever diminishes automatically.
Antioxidants also enhance the production of white blood cells in our body, which is an added advantage for our immune health.
Other nutrients like vitamin B complex, zinc, iron, potassium, and magnesium, etc also play a significant role in boosting our immunity.
(9) Manages Cholesterol Level
For healthy living, it is important to keep our cholesterol level under control as a high level of bad LDL cholesterol in our body may increase the risk of cardiovascular problems and other health problems.
Piperine, an antioxidant in the black pepper increases our body’s ability to absorb anti-cholesterol dietary supplements like curcumin in turmeric.
In India, it’s common to use turmeric and black pepper combined for enhancing the taste and aroma of the dish, and also enjoy the anti-cholesterol benefit provided by these spices.
Using black pepper along with turmeric in the dish increases the anti-cholesterol benefit of the turmeric.
As per studies, black pepper increases the absorption of curcumin in turmeric by up to 2000%.
(10) Improves Oral Health
Because of its anti-microbial properties, black pepper is effective in fighting against gum and teeth infections.
The anti-inflammatory property of the black pepper provides relief from toothache and also relieves gum inflammation.
For better oral health, mix equal amounts of salt and powdered black pepper in water and gently rub the mixture on the gums. It relieves gum inflammation.
If you have a toothache, mix powdered black pepper with clove oil, and gently apply it to the affected area.
Consult your doctor before giving these general remedies a try.
(11) Fights Infections
The anti-bacterial properties of the black pepper aids in fighting against various bacterial infections.
As per a South African study, piperine in the black pepper possesses larvicidal effects and thus helps in preventing infection and spread of the disease.
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(12) Improves Male Fertility
Black pepper contains zinc and magnesium that helps in improving male fertility.
These vital minerals increase the testosterone (male sex hormone) level in us and also increases sperm count and concentration.
Zinc helps in the development and mobility of the sperms.
Antioxidants in the black pepper protect the sperm cells from free radical damage and contribute to better sexual health.
(13) Enhances Brain Health
Antioxidantal compounds like piperine in the black pepper protect our brain cells aka neurons from the oxidative damage caused by free radicals and thus reduces the risk of various neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, amnesia, and dementia, etc.
Black pepper enhances nerve activity in the brain and prevents our nerve cells from premature death.
Piperine, an antioxidantal compound in the black pepper controls the enzyme responsible for breaking down serotonin(a calming neurotransmitter) and melatonin(sleep hormone) in our brain and thus contributes to better neurological health.
It also inhibits the enzyme responsible for disrupting the production of feel-good Dopamine hormone, and thus reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
As per an Indian study, piperine decreases the formation of amyloid plaque and may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
(14) Regulates Blood Sugar Level
Piperine in black pepper inhibits the enzymes responsible for breaking down starch into glucose.
This slows down the release of sugar into the bloodstream, prevents a sudden spike in blood sugar level, and thus helps in managing diabetes.
Dietary fibers in black pepper reduce the absorption of sugar by the bloodstream and contribute to blood sugar regulation.
Piperine is a natural catalyst that increases the effectiveness of the nutrients present in food and dietary supplements.
If you are on diabetes medication then consult your doctor before making black pepper a part of your diet.
Black pepper in combination with diabetic medication like metformin may drop our blood sugar to an abnormally low level and thereby increases the risk of hypoglycemia with symptoms such as fatigue, shakiness, pale skin, anxiety, excessive hunger, excessive sweating, irritability, blurred vision, seizures, and loss of consciousness, etc.
(15) Helps Quit Smoking
Cigarette smoking is injurious to our health as it contains more than 3000 harsh chemicals like nicotine, hydrogen cyanide, and lead, etc that increases the risk of various cancers.
Quitting smoking leads to a healthy life but Nicotine, an addictive substance in cigarettes makes it a difficult task.
Nicotine addiction makes us carve for it and the absence of nicotine gives rise to withdrawal symptoms like increased appetite, increased craving for carbs and sugars, resulting in weight gain, nicotine craving, coughing, headaches and dizziness, fatigue, and constipation.
These withdrawal symptoms may only last for one to three months. With every passing day, our body and brain get better at handling cravings.
Studies have found that consuming black pepper and as well as inhaling black pepper vapor is effective in reducing cigarette craving, and for dealing with other withdrawal symptoms.
Beauty Benefits Of Black Pepper
The benefits of black pepper are not just limited to health and they also provide several beauty benefits for our skin and hair. Some of these are
(1) Natural Skin Exfoliator
The exfoliating properties of the black pepper help in the removal of dead skin cells and prevent our skin from becoming dull and dry.
When dead skin is removed, it gets replaced by new skin cells that make our skin soft, supple, and radiant and improves skin health.
For skin exfoliation, take half a teaspoon of powdered black pepper, and add one teaspoon of yogurt to it. Mix them properly, and apply them to the face.
Let it air dry for 20 minutes and then wash off with water.
Using this face pack regularly removes dead skin cells, and makes our skin soft and radiant.
Massaging with a black pepper face pack also improves blood circulation, and thus provides more nutrients and oxygen to our skin.
It is also effective against skin problems such as acne and pimples because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
(2) Keeps Premature Aging At Bay
Piperine and other antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients and polyphenols etc in the black pepper protect our skin cells and tissues from the free radical damage, and thus minimizes various signs of premature aging like fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, dark spots, and skin blemishes, etc.
Essential nutrients like zinc, magnesium and vitamin B complex, etc in the black pepper also contribute to better skin health.
Adding black pepper to your diet is one of the simplest and most effective ways to fight against premature aging.
If you are looking for a topical solution then take one teaspoon of powdered black pepper and add one teaspoon of honey or turmeric. add some water for smoothness and consistency and mix all the ingredients to form a paste.
It can also be used topically on the skin.
For this, mix one teaspoon of powdered black pepper, one teaspoon of honey or turmeric, and some water to form a thick paste.
Apply it on your face and let it air dry for 10 to 15 minutes, and then wash off with water.
Regular use will minimize fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and other signs of aging.
(3) Cures Vitiligo
The piperine in the black pepper helps in curing vitiligo, a skin condition in which our skin loses natural pigmentation at certain areas of the skin and form white patches at those areas.
Treatment of vitiligo mostly involves the use of harsh chemicals, but black pepper is an exception.
(4) Make Hair Soft And Lustrous
Black pepper makes our hair strong and lustrous due to the abundance of vital nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other relevant compounds.
These compounds nourish our hair follicles and scalp.
To add luster to your hair, thoroughly mix one teaspoon of powdered black pepper seeds and one teaspoon of lemon juice and gently apply it to the scalp. Let it dry for 10 to 15 minutes, and then wash off with cold water.
Regular use will make your hair soft and lustrous.
Alternatively, mix one teaspoon of powdered black pepper with an equal amount of honey and apply it to the hair. This will strengthen your hair follicles, reduce hair fall, and help prevent baldness.
(5) Treats Dandruff
Poor scalp health may increase the risk of dandruff which is a common scalp problem that affects millions of people around the world.
Black pepper contains vital nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other compounds that improved our scalp health.
The antioxidantal properties of the piperine and other relevant compounds in black pepper protect our hair follicles and scalp from free radical damage, and the anti-microbial properties of this magical spice protect the scalp from microbial damage.
It improves blood circulation in the scalp, nourishes our hair follicles and scalp, and keeps them healthy.
For treating dandruff, properly mix one teaspoon of powder black pepper into a bowl of curd. Apply it on your scalp and let it air dry for half an hour, and then wash off with water.
Avoid shampooing that day, but you may shampoo on the next day.
Avoid using too much black pepper and don’t overdo it as otherwise it may cause discomfort and burning sensation in the scalp.
Nutrients In Black Pepper
Black pepper is loaded with essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients and polyphenols, etc that provide several health and beauty benefits.
One tablespoon of black pepper contains the following nutrients
- 15.9 calories of energy
- 4 grams of carbohydrates
- 3 milligrams of sodium
- 2 grams of dietary fiber
- 0.7 grams of protein
- No fat and cholesterol
- Other nutrients like vitamin C, calcium and iron, etc.
Despite its rich nutritious profile, it is better to consume black pepper in moderation.
It is not a food but a spice that adds taste and aroma to the food and at the same time provides several benefits.
Black pepper is truly a magical spice as it can also improve the effectiveness of other food items like fenugreek, cumin, and turmeric.
Points To Remember
- Handle black pepper (especially powdered black pepper) with care because if it enters the eyes then it can cause redness of the eyes and a burning sensation in the eyes.
- In higher doses, black pepper may increase the risk of miscarriage in pregnant women. It is better to consult your doctor before consuming black pepper during pregnancy.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Black Pepper Can I Take In A Day?
There is no detailed study in this regard, and it is suggested to go with your physician’s advice. It is not food but spice and should be consumed in small quantities.
Is Black Pepper Bad For Kidneys?
The oxalates present in the black pepper may increase the risk of kidney stone development. If you are suffering from kidney disorders then it is better to consult your doctor before adding black pepper to your meals.
Is It Good To Take Black Pepper In The Morning On Empty Stomach?
It depends on the individuals.
If your digestive system is weak then you may experience stomach discomfort and gastric issues after ingesting black pepper on an empty stomach.
If your digestion is stronger, then you may not experience such a problem.
Even if you don’t experience any pain or discomfort after eating black pepper on empty stomach, then also limit the intake to 2-3 black peppers per day.
The information contained in the post is for general purposes only and shouldn’t be considered as medical advice or as an alternative to medical advice. Although I’ve tried my best to keep the information contained in this post as accurate and updated as possible, I make no guarantee of the accurateness of the same.
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Bharat Sharma is a Delhi-based writer who loves reading and writing research-based topics revolving around health, fitness, and nutrition. His love for writing started during his teenage and continues till date. After his graduation, he worked for GE Money, and IBM, but later found his true love i.e. blogging.