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Eating With Purpose --- Black Pepper

Black pepper is called king of spices. It belongs to Piperaceae family. This spice comes from a Sanskrit word pippali which actually means black gold.

Piper nigrum is a plant native to tropical forests of the Malabar coast of Southwest India. The spice is made from drying the ripe peppercorns. Black pepper has been used for centuries in different cultures. Its been used for thousands of years in ancient Greece and ancient Rome.

Apart from giving nice flavor and spice to food this spice is rich in many vitamins and minerals. It has multiple medicinal qualities and it is one of the most powerful ingredients used in Ayurveda.

According to USDA national Nutrient database, pepper contains vitamin B6, E, K and folate. It also has niacin, riboflavain and thiamin. It is a good source of manganese. In fact, 1 teaspoon of black pepper offers 16 percent of the daily recommended intake of manganese and 6 percent of daily recommended intake of vit K. Manganese plays important role in wound healing and bone health.

This spice also contains variety of bioactive compounds, essential oils and antioxidants like piperine, piperidine, and chavicine that help to boost metabolism and help in food digestion. Piperine give black paper its appealing piquancy.

Black paper has many positive effects on the digestive tract. Black paper not only makes food delicious but also increases the production of digestive juices by stimulating the taste buds. Some studies have shown increased production of hydrochloric acid from stomach. This acid production helps to break down proteins in stomach improving digestion. Acid in stomach neutralizes many bacteria as they enter our body through food. Pepper also boost good bacterial growth in our mid gut. Good bacterial flora is very important to maintain a normal gut barrier. Some studies have suggested that black pepper can boost metabolism and helps in weight loss.

Black pepper is rich in potent phenolic acids and antioxidants. This antioxidant content helps if fighting oxidative stress in our body. Oxidation is a regular process observed in our cells but it produces undesirable reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS are linked to worsening of inflammatory process in body and also lead to accelerated aging. Reducing oxidative stress helps in prevention of chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. The study performed in 2007 showed positive correlation between antioxidant property and phenolic acid. Black pepper was shown to have significant antioxidant property. It also has chemo preventive effect which can control progression of different cancer cells.

The key bioactive compound in pepper called peprin also shown to boost brain function. Most of the studies are performed in animals. These studies have suggested neuro-protective effect of pepper which helps the body in prevention of Alzheimer’s and depression.

Black pepper also has antimicrobial and anti-parasitic properties. Because of these properties this spice is used in preserving food and preventing infection. Peperin also improves the bioavailability of other phytochemicals like curcumin and resveratrol. It helps in rapid absorption of curcumin which is found in turmeric. Curcumin is a powerful spic with multitude of amazing health benefits. Resveratrol is found in red wine and shown to reduce risk of brain disorder, heart disease and diabetes. Thus adding pepper to foods can not only boosts the flavor but also enhances the restorative worth of various other spices.

So please start adding this king of spice to your food. I suggest using a freshly cracked pepper for more benefit. Crack it on your steamed veggies and sprinkle them with turmeric. Same you cad do for your cooked meats and fish. Add small pinch in your tea or turmeric smoothy. It is versatile and easy to use.

Now next time you sit down to eat a meal show some love to this special spice. I am very sure not only you will enjoy its flavor but it will boost your immune function, reduce oxidative stress and help your gut to digest your meal.

Use in high doses can create problems. Avoid high doses of this spice as supplement. This can interfere in absorption of your medications. Please contact your health care provider for further question on interaction with your medications.

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