Yes. It’s deliberate that I write about black pepper and its benefits right after the turmeric post. I will take a punt and say that the two ingredients have not been obvious pot fellows in many Kenyan kitchens. Black pepper is a flowering vine grown for its fruit, the peppercorn. Often referred to as the ‘King of Spices’ or ‘Black Gold’.
Read Also: Turmeric And Its Benefits
Black peppers active ingredient is called Piperine, known largely for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. There are the three types of peppercorns:
- Black peppercorns – These are the most common variety. They are first cooked and then dried.
- Green peppercorns – These are the unripe version of the dried fruit.
- White peppercorns – These are nearly ripe peppercorns with their skin/outer flesh is removed.
So why would you want to know the ‘King of Spices’ more intimately?
Hack#1: Soothes Coughs
Add black pepper to your tea with some honey. Pepper stimulates circulation and mucus flow. Alternatively, try sprinkling black pepper on a lemon wedge and sucking on it!
Hack#2: Quite Smoking
A study by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine states that when nicotine users inhale the fragrance of black pepper oil, their cravings reduce. Study suggests smokers smell a drop of the oil when a craving hits.
Hack#3: Soothes Sore Muscles
Apply black pepper oil over the sore area and massage gently. Black pepper oil is considered a warming oil because it increases circulation and heat to the area when applied.
But on a more candid note:
Win#1: Keeps Food Fresh
Contains antimicrobial compounds that help keep food fresh. In combination with salt, can be used to cure and flavor various meats.
Win#2: Reduces Inflammation
The peperine in black pepper is anti-inflammatory. Piperine is also a natural pain killer, so you can add it to you drink or snack to reduce a headache, for example.
Win#3: Rich in Vitamins and Minerals
Black pepper contains a generous amount of vitamin A, C and K.
Win#4: Anti oxidant Galore!
Black pepper is rich in Antioxidants. Helps reduce the presence of free radicals in the body.
Win#5: Enhances Nutrient Absorption
Piperine, the compound responsible for the pepper taste, also helps in the absorption of other nutrients. It increases the bio-availability, and consequent effectiveness of other substances such as curcumin, found in turmeric. Piperine actually activates curcumin to make it more readily available for absorption by the body. This is why these two spices work so well in concert.
Win#6: Promotes Good Digestion
Black pepper promotes the release of enzymes from the pancreas and intestines that help in the digestion of fats as well as carbs. Whatever drink you have in the morning, do try and infuse black pepper into it.
Win#7: Raised Dopamine and Serotonin
Piperine help improve the production of the chemicals dopamine and serotonin, which generally enhance positive feeling.
Win#8: Lowers Blood Pressure
Piperine does it again! Studies have shown that piperine can control the increase of BP. Yaaay!! Definite win here!
Incorporating black pepper into your diet.
This may come as a surprise to you, but there are different types of black pepper! These differ both in potency and in flavor levels. As a rule of thumb, experts advise against buying black pepper that has already been ground because it loses a significant amount of nutrients in this way. If you want to get the most out of black pepper, you need all the nutrients on your plate! This is why a lot of chefs have a pepper mill on hand in their kitchens always.
Black pepper is a very versatile ingredient and can be added to a variety of dishes and drinks. Black pepper can also be incorporated into your tea. Have you tried sprinkling it on your avocado?
Store your pepper corns in and airtight container to keep them fresh.