9 Health Benefits of Black Pepper

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black-pepperThis article originally appeared on Live in the Now.

In addition to banishing blandness and imparting flavor in our food, black pepper has properties that can improve quite a few aspects of health.

Here are nine health benefits of adding black pepper to your food.

Enhances Digestion

Black pepper stimulates the stomach to produce more hydrochloric acid, a substance needed for the digestion of protein and other foods. This action helps prevent indigestion, constipation and diarrhea.

Fights Cancer Cells

In a study conducted at the University of Michigan Cancer Center, scientists found black pepper may prevent the development of breast cancer. Once again, the effect was heightened when the spice was combined with turmeric. In addition to breast cancer, black pepper may also slow the progression of skin and colon cancer.

Increases Absorption & Bioavailability of Curcumin

Research suggests taking black pepper together with curcumin can boost absorption of curcumin, a compound that is known for its impressive ability to curb inflammation and protect the the brain. Despite curcumin’s remarkable health benefits, it has the drawbacks of poor absorption and bioavailability. But according to a study published in Planta Medica, when 20mg of black pepper was administered together with 2g of curcumin, it improved the absorption as well as increased the bioavailability of the turmeric-derived compound by 2,000 percent.

Promotes Weight Loss

The outer layer of black pepper contains nutrients that promote the breakdown of fat cells. Additionally, the spice stimulates sweating and urination, which help eliminate excess water and toxins from the body.

Facilitates Clear Skin

When crushed black pepper is added to a face scrub, it removes dead skin cells and stimulates circulation along with delivering more nutrients and oxygen to the skin. It also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent acne.

Natural Decongestant

The same antibacterial properties of black pepper that fight acne can also relieve a cough and stuffy nose. It is also a natural decongestant. Next time you catch a cold, sprinkle black pepper on hot chicken soup to loosen phlegm in your lungs and help you breathe easier.

Improves Cognition & Reduces Depression

According to the Journal of Food Chemistry and Toxicology, black pepper improves cognition and reduces depression. When people consume pepper regularly, it facilitates better brain function.

Boosts Cardiovascular Health

In a study published in Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics, researchers found that black pepper promotes better blood pressure and reduces inflammation, factors that boost cardiovascular health.

Supplies Antioxidants

Black pepper has substantial antioxidant properties, a benefit that produces many positive effects. Our bodies are under constant assault from free radicals, molecules that harm cells and lead to disease. Antioxidants help prevent this damage.

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