Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Health Benefits of Black Pepper

Health Benefits of Black Pepper

by: Arlene Gentallan


        First off, pepper is a fruit. You heard it correctly! It's a fruit with an interesting history. Let me share the most memorable.

        During the ancient times, it has been used for currency known as "black gold." It's so valuable that Rome has to pay thousands of pounds of pepper to save itself from invaders during the 5th century. With peppers being sold everywhere at a considerable price, it's outrageous to imagine that there was a time when pepper was so expensive only the rich can afford.


        An ex·cerpt from Pliny the Elder, Natural History (12.14) says:


"it is sometimes their sweetness, and sometimes their appearance that has attracted our notice; whereas, pepper has nothing in it that can plead as a recommendation to either fruit or berry, its only desirable quality being a certain pungency; and yet it is for this that we import it all the way from India!"

        It's not just for cooking. Peppercorn has also been used as part of mummification ritual in ancient Egypt. The deceased pharaoh Ramesses II nostril's were discovered to be filled were peppercorns.


        To magnify the price of black peper, some people even made up a story. As written on Spices and Late-Medieval European Ideas of Scarcity and Value by Paul Freedman Volume 80, No 4 (Oct., 2015), pages 1209:


In book 17 of Isidore of Seville's Etymologies, pepper is said to come from groves of trees in India  “guarded” by poisonous serpents. In order to harvest the pepper, the trees have to be burned, driving the snakes away and in the process turning the originally white fruit black.

        So what are the benefits we can get from this small black spice with a timeless history of bloodshed, deceit, and world trade:




1.Weight loss
        In a study by Ui-Hyun Park, Hong-Suk Jeong, Eun-Young Jo, et al. published at ACS Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, they found out that piperine prevents the formation of fat cells.



2. Digestion
        Black pepper stimulates the stomach to release hydrochloric acid to facilitate digestion of the foods eaten. It's also use to treat diarrhea and constipation.



3. Carminitive
        Adding black pepper to the diet, prevents gas formation in the gut. This helps relieve flatulence and gas pain.



4. Detoxifier
        Black pepper acts as a natural diuretic, removing excess water and toxins from the body. It also stimulated sweating (diaphoresis).



5. Respiratory distress
        Black pepper has antibacterial property. It can be used for cough, colds, nasal congestion, and as an expectorant.



6. Anti-bacterial
        In as study by Maryam Zarringhalam, Jalal Zaringhalam, Mehdi Shadnoush, et al., it is discovered that black pepper essential oil and extract is effective against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. It's active antimicrobial components are piperine  and oleic acid.



7. Anti-inflammatory
        Consuming black pepper helps relieve inflammation (redness, swelling, and pain).



8. Anti-cancer
        Piperine has antioxidant property which helps fight damaging free radicals responsible for myriads of health problems such as cancer and premature aging.



9. Anti-depressant
The piperine content of black pepper can brighten your mood because it prevents the degradation of serotonin and dopamine.



10. Vitiligo
        Dr Amala Soumyanath and colleagues of King’s College London, studied piperine as possible treatment of vitiligo, a long-term disease in which white patches appears on the skin because of lack of pigment. They found out that piperine stimulate melanocyte growth when applied topically.



11. Nutritional Value
        This small black fruit is also a source of nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, fiber, and manganese.



Notes:

  • Black pepper comes from the Piperaceae family.
  • It's fundamental component responsible for it's strong hot taste and many health benefits is known as "piperine."