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.
6. Increased Absorption of Curcumin
Piperine, the compound that gives black pepper its pungent flavor, may aid in the absorption of certain nutrients. Curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. However, curcumin is not easily absorbed by the digestive system. Piperine may possibly aid in the absorption of curcumin from the digestive tract, leading to increased benefits of this agent.
5. Increased Absorption of Resveratrol
Resveratrol is a polyphenol found in the skin of red grapes, and is therefore present in red wine and grape juices. This compound has antioxidant properties and may possibly help prevent heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. The piperine of black pepper may interfere with metabolic processes in the gut, which break down resveratrol before it can be absorbed. Unfortunately, the dose of pepper required for this effect may not be palatable. Additionally, if piperine were formulated in high doses into a supplement, the absorption of harmful chemicals and hormones could be increased as well.
4. Food Seasoning
The very best benefit of black pepper is its use in seasoning foods. A shake of black pepper on your savory salad may ensure you eat more of the nutrient-rich greens your body needs. A grind of pepper on your morning eggs scrambled with green peppers, mushrooms, and spinach is a tasty way to enjoy protein and veggies. A crack of black pepper on your edamame livens up the flavor of these protein-packed, low-calorie soybeans. Enjoy your black pepper as a means to spice up the healthy foods that provide your body with the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs.
3. Cooking with Beef
Black pepper and beef combine beautifully in recipes. Mix black pepper and spices into ground beef for savory burgers. Encrust beef steak with peppercorns before grilling. Marinate beef in pepper, soy sauce, and vinegar before cooking up a tasty stir fry. Campbell’s Kitchen offers a simple recipe for Easy Pepper Steak. This recipe requires sirloin steak, beef broth, vegetables, and soy sauce.
2. Cooking with Chicken
Pepper brings out the flavor of poultry as well. Enjoy black pepper with duck, turkey, and chicken dishes. For a simple, delicious, and healthy chicken recipe, try this One-Pot Black Pepper Chicken from SkinnyMs. All you need are chicken breasts, black pepper, bell peppers, spices, vinegar, and soy sauce to enjoy a flavorful, healthy meal.
1. Cooking with Curry
If you are excited to try black pepper with turmeric in hopes of reaping the health advantages of piperine and curcumin, try a flavorful curry. Food&Wine offers a recipe for Black Pepper Chicken Curry that utilizes both of these ingredients. In addition, you will need chicken thighs, onions, garlic, Thai chili, and coconut milk. Enjoy!