If you’re a health-conscious person looking for new ways to get healthy ingredients in your diet, black pepper might be the next item to consider. You’ve likely seen it added to several supplements lately and with good reason; black pepper can be a smart addition to your diet.

What black pepper is all about

Black pepper is one of the most commonly used spices in the world. It’s made by grinding peppercorns, which are actually dried berries from the vine Piper nigrum. It has a sharp and mildly spicy flavor that goes well with many dishes. You likely have it in your kitchen cabinet if not on your kitchen table! It is an important healthy because its antioxidant, antimicrobial potential and gastro-protective properties. Pepper, with piperine as an active ingredient, holds rich phytochemistry that also includes volatile oil, oleoresins, and alkaloids. It contains minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, as well as vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B6, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. Other nutrients include vitamin E, folate, and vitamin K.

Are there actual health benefits?

Black peppercorns have been used in ancient Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years due to its high concentration of potent, beneficial plant compounds. Laboratory studies suggest that black pepper may improve cholesterol levels, blood sugar control, and brain and gut health. Below are a few other potential health benefits:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties – Many laboratory studies suggest that piperine — the main active compound in black pepper — may effectively fight inflammation.
  • High in antioxidants – Black peppercorn are rich in piperine, which test-tube studies have found to have potent antioxidant
  • May boost absorption of nutrients – Pepper may increase the absorption of essential nutrients like calcium and selenium, as well some beneficial plant compounds, such as those found in green tea and turmeric.
  • May offer pain relief – Studies in rodents suggest that the piperine may be a natural pain reliever.

Are there studies about black peppercorns?

Several, actually! According to researchers in Oregon Health & Science University, the piperine content of pepper can stimulate the skin to produce melanocytes pigment. Research published in the journal Phytomedicine showed that the compounds present in pepper were active against Bacillus subtilisBacillus sphaericus, and Staphylococcus aureus. Several studies have shown that black pepper may have beneficial effects on gastric mucosal damage and peptic ulcers due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In mouse studies, piperine suppressed inflammation in the airways caused by asthma and seasonal allergies. In one study, rats fed a black pepper extract had a smaller spike in blood sugar levels after consuming glucose compared to rats in the control group. There are numerous other studies using humans and animals that have shown promising results.

How best to take black pepper

Of course, most people use pepper in their foods; many Americans have it as a staple on the kitchen table right next to salt, as most restaurants do. However, there are definitely other ways to consume black pepper. The other popular way is to take a supplement that contains black pepper, usually paired with other healthy ingredients for more potential benefit.

Black pepper can be a smart addition to your diet. Try incorporating more black peppercorns in the foods you eat or seek out a high-quality supplement that includes black peppercorns as one of its ingredients to enjoy the potential benefits.