The pepper grinder sits benignly next to the salt shaker on every household pantry shelf and restaurant table. Lately, consumers and health professionals alike have been focusing attention on the nutritive and whole-body health benefits of foods. It only stands to reason that researchers have been interested in determining if black pepper has benefits beyond seasoning food as well. While there is much research yet to be done, there are a few possible health benefits to be found in the humble pepper shaker. Of course, the best benefit of all is the flavor it brings to the dishes at your table.
8. Decreased Cancer Risk from Charred Meat
When meat is charred or cooked at high temperatures, carcinogenic chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) can form on the surface of the meat. Studies by J. Scott Smith at Kansas State University have suggested that black pepper can stop the formation of these cancer-causing compounds. While the amount of pepper needed to prevent the formation of HCAs is overpowering to the palate, the same effect is seen when the pepper is mixed with other spices. Spices such as oregano, rosemary, thyme, and basil can be combined with pepper and applied to steak, fish, chicken, pork, and ground beef.
7. Digestive Aid
Black pepper appears to aid in digestion by stimulating the stomach to produce more hydrochloric acid. This effect has been studied in rats, resulting in increased gastric acid production. However, this has not been studied in humans, and the quantity of pepper that must be consumed for this effect may be unrealistic. Those suffering from stomach ulcers will want to avoid the overuse of pepper due to this possible effect.