15 February, 2018
Black Pepper & the Heart
While scientific evidence has not pinpointed how much black pepper you need to affect heart function, the potential health benefits of the spice are well-documented. Additionally, substituting black pepper for salt can benefit those with high cholesterol, adding flavor without exacerbating hypertension. Consult your doctor before making dietary changes to manage symptoms of heart disease.
Benefits of Black Pepper
Central Food Technological Research Institute in India suggests that black pepper may help the body regulate cholesterol. High cholesterol levels can lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. It may also help digestion by stimulating the taste buds, signaling to the stomach to produce hydrochloric acid. Without sufficient hydrochloric acid, you can develop heartburn. According to a 2010 study at Michigan State University, black pepper exhibits anticancer, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Colorado State University reports that together, turmeric and black pepper decrease breast cancer stem cells. Additionally, black pepper is a source of chromium, manganese, vitamin K and iron.
The alkaloid piperine is the active component of black pepper. Piperine is also the source of the tickling sensation that can lead you to sneeze when you inhale the spice. This effect may be irritating, but it is useful for breaking up congestion. Piperine might also be responsible for black pepper's anti-carcinogenic properties, make it easier for your body to absorb some nutrients, and may act as an anticonvulsant. No scientific research isolates how much black pepper you need to ingest for it to be effective in these capacities.
Black pepper is a good source of the mineral chromium. Chromium helps your body metabolize fats and carbohydrates. It also stimulates synthesis of cholesterol and fatty acids, which is important for brain function, according to MedlinePlus, the website of the National Institutes of Health. Chromium is also important for metabolizing insulin. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, low chromium levels increase triglycerides, blood sugar and the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Use black pepper in conjunction with other spices as a substitute for salt and saturated fat to support maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol. A squeeze of lemon and a dash of black pepper make a flavorful dressing for fish or vegetables. Blending black pepper with turmeric, curry, cumin and cinnamon and rubbing it on chicken or tofu before grilling adds pizazz and health benefits without extra fat or sodium. Start your meal with fresh vegetables, such as cucumbers, dipped in a blend of ground black and cayenne peppers to stimulate your appetite and prepare your body for healthy digestion.
- Colorado State University; Spice up Your Diet and Do Your Body Good; Shirley Perryman, M.S., R.D.; August 2010
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Chromium
- MedlinePlus: Chromium in diet
- "National Product Communications"; Inhibitory Effects of Black Pepper ...; Y. Liu, et al.; August 2010
- "Gayot"; Black Pepper Power; Rachel B. Levin; October 2010
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images