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Benefits of Black Pepper

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Black pepper has been a prized spice for thousands of years, and many health benefits have associated with black pepper.  Most of the studies have focused on the antioxidant properties of black pepper, but a study about to be released in the November 2019 issue of Current Research in Biotechnology explores the effects of black pepper on cholesterol.

The bioactive components in black pepper include alkaloids, oils, oleoresin, and the primary ingredient, piperine.  Black pepper causes many pharmacological effects, such as antibacterial and antitumor effects, and has been used in traditional medicine for common ailments like colds.  The benefits of black pepper have been studied and documented in human clinical studies, but this recent study involved animals who were fed milled black pepper and experienced an increase in HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and Vitamin C.

HDL (high density lipoprotein) is considered the “good” cholesterol.  HDL’s main role is to transport cholesterol from the bloodstream back to the liver.  High levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL, or low-density lipoprotein) is a marker for heart disease and stroke risk because the cholesterol accumulates in the cardiovascular system and causes plaque buildup, narrowing blood vessels and obstructing the flow of blood in the body and heart.

The study found that the addition of milled black pepper to the feed of the test subjects increased their good cholesterol levels and confirmed the role of black pepper in antioxidant status.  Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which increased significantly in the blood serum of the test subjects–a confirmation of previous theories that Vitamin C can be increased through supplementation of piperine.

In addition to increasing the antioxidant Vitamin C, the essential oil of black pepper and its oleoresin can also scavenge free radicals directly.  Black pepper is a simple addition to food that can make a big difference to your health.  Many health supplements are now available that offer piperine in a capsule form.

Black pepper has the highest medicinal benefits when it has not been pre-ground.  The common ground table pepper does not deliver as many benefits because the pepper that has been pre-ground has been oxidized.  Some of pepper’s phenolic acids can be damaged by the exposure to oxygen, and its oils can be lost in the commercial preparation of grinding.  By keeping the peppercorns together before you grind it at home right before use, you will reduce the exposure to oxygen, and you’ll keep its helpful components intact.  As a bonus, it will also offer a wonderful flavor and complexity that pre-ground pepper doesn’t have.

References

  1. Yang, Yang, et al. “Black Pepper Dietary Supplementation Increases High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) Levels in Pigs.” Current Research in Biotechnology, vol. 1, 1 Nov. 2019, pp. 28–33., doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crbiot.2019.08.002.

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