If you look through any recipe book, there’s one ingredient you’ll find in nearly every recipe – black pepper.The use of black pepper, or piper nigrum, goes back 4,000 years in the East. The Chinese used pepper to address malaria, cholera, dysentery, diarrhea, and stomach complaints. It has a long history of use as a traditional folk medicine in a variety of cultures.
The most common health benefit may be its effectiveness in natural weight loss programs. Black pepper’s low calorie content makes it a great way to spice up food while decreasing the need to add other more high-calorie or fatty flavorings. In addition to its low calorie count, it may also aid in weight loss because it can boost metabolism.
Piperine, a key active component of black pepper, has been shown in animal studies to increase the body’s expenditure of energy. It does this by affecting the production of hormone-like chemicals that regulate the body’s energy balance. What’s more, a study found that piperine suppresses genes needed for new fat cell growth and, as a result, fights the development of new fat cells. Both of these studies could have significant implications for humans and obesity; however, more human based studies are needed to support these findings.
As if that weren’t enough, black pepper is also helpful with digestion. Black pepper increases your hydrochloric acid secretion, which is necessary for the digestion of protei
ns and other foods within the stomach. In fact, poor production of hydrochloric acid can cause food to sit in your stomach for an extended period of time. This can lead to heartburn, indigestion or stomach bacteria, which may produce gas, diarrhea, or constipation.
Another health advantage to this spice is its ability to help increase the antioxidants you get from your diet. According to the US Department of Agriculture, black pepper has a total oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) value of 27,618, which is even higher than cayenne, which comes in at a still high 19,672. This scale measures the potential of a food to prevent the cell-damaging oxidation of free radicals in your body.
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