While we here at Zen Spice Traders focus primarily on the taste and flavor profiles of pepper, there is another facet to pepper that many may not know. Even though pepper is believed to have originated in South India, it is grown in countries with climates similar to India. Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam are three close neighbors to India that also grow and market pepper. In fact, Cambodian Kampot pepper is known as the “king of pepper” by many. It has long been prized by European chefs, and is widely used in gourmet French cooking. Pepper from the Phú Quốc area of Vietnam and Chantaburi in Thailand are said to be just as flavorful as that from Kampot.
Before you push this simple spice aside, consider this; many cultures believe that black pepper, while used cuisines the world over, comes with health benefits as well. Following are seven reasons you may want to consider using fresh black pepper:
As a way to try and keep cancer at bay: The piperine in black pepper affects your cells' proliferation, and fights the proliferation of rectal cancer cells, according to a study published in "Experimental and Molecular Pathology" in 2013. It also has Vitamin C, Vitamin A, flavonoids, carotenes and other anti-oxidants that help remove harmful free radicals and protect the body from diseases. An additional study, from the January 2013 issue of the "Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry," reports that the piperine in black pepper hinders new blood vessel growth within tumors, stunting their growth. The best way to eat pepper to harness maximum benefits is to eat freshly ground pepper, and not cook it along with food.
Good cardiovascular health: Black pepper contributes to a heart-healthy diet and promotes cardiovascular health. A study, published in the November 2013 issue of "Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics," found that piperine helps regulate blood pressure and reduces inflammation, which would otherwise contribute to cardiovascular disease. Additionally, black pepper is low in sodium (1 milligram per a 1 teaspoon serving of whole peppercorns).
It stimulates digestion: Piperine in black pepper can ease digestion and stimulates the stomach, which then secretes more hydrochloric acid that helps to digest proteins in food. So, a grind or two of black pepper in your food will actually help to digest it faster. It is also a natural remedy for decreasing gas and bloating.
A cough remedy: Black pepper is antibacterial in nature, and so helps to cure a cough. A teaspoon of honey with freshly crushed pepper will likely do the trick. You can also add it to hot water and eucalyptus oil and breathe in the resulting steam.
Assists in weight loss: Surprisingly, black pepper is great when it comes to extracting nutrients from food. Its outer layer contains phytonutrients, which help to break down fat cells, and also increase metabolism. According to a study titled “Metabolic effects of spices, teas, and caffeine” by the Department of Human Biology, at Maastricht University, in The Netherlands, spiced foods or herbal drinks leads to greater thermogenesis and in some cases to greater satiety. In this regard, capsaicin, black pepper, ginger, mixed spices, green tea, black tea and caffeine are relevant examples. These functional ingredients have the potential to produce significant effects on metabolic targets such as satiety, thermogenesis, and fat oxidation.
Improves skin: Crushed pepper is one of the best exfoliators nature can provide. It should not be used directly on the skin however; add a bit of honey or fresh cream to it before exfoliating. It also helps blood circulation, and provides the skin with more oxygen. Black pepper is also believed to help in the cure of Vitiligo, a condition where the skin loses pigmentation, and creates white patches.
As an anti-depression boost: It's said that the piperine in black pepper helps to deal with depression by stimulating the brain, and helping it to function better by making it more active.
To take maximum advantage of the benefits of black pepper, it's recommended that you buy whole peppercorn and grind it at home. This not only makes sure that the spice retains its wonderful flavor, but it will also last much longer. Store it in an airtight container, and always in a cool, dry, and dark place.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Experimental and Molecular Pathology: Piperine Impairs Cell Cycle Progression and Causes Reactive Oxygen Species-Dependent Apoptosis in Rectal Cancer Cells
Involvement of serotonergic system in the antidepressant-like effect of piperine
Piperine, the potential functional food for mood and cognitive disorders
What Are Health Benefits of Eating Black Pepper?
Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry: Piperine, a Dietary Phytochemical, Inhibits Angiogenesis.
Physiology and Behavior: Metabolic Effects of Spices, Teas, and Caffeine
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