Pepper, one of the most commonly used spices in the world, provides an array of health benefits that can improve your overall health and well-being if you know what to look for when buying it. You’ll find out about piperine, the compound in pepper that gives it its spicy flavor, and how it can help improve your health in surprising ways.
Read on to learn more about different types of peppercorns, how it can benefit you and the difference between black and white peppers.
What is black pepper?
Black pepper is made from peppercorns, which come from a small tropical vine. The berry of a peppercorn can be eaten as is or dried and ground into black pepper. In its purest form, black pepper is prized for its high antioxidant content. Black pepper contains about 1.4 milligrams of antioxidant flavonoids per gram – more than any other common spice. Flavonoids help promote heart health by keeping cholesterol levels in check and increasing blood flow to all parts of your body. Perhaps more importantly for many people who use it regularly, black pepper also boosts brain function because it contains thymoquinone – a powerful antioxidant found only in black peppers.
What is white pepper?
White pepper is made from peppercorns of the same plant as the black pepper. The main difference between these two varieties of peppercorn is in their color and the level of spiciness. White peppers are lighter in color and their spice level is more than that of the black pepper. One of the most interesting differences between them involves their production process.
What is the difference between black and white pepper?
Unripe green peppercorns are harvested and sun-dried, then cured. The curing process removes moisture content, allowing for consistent grinds, higher oil content than white pepper, and better flavor. Black pepper becomes aromatic as it ages because oxygen interacts with its oils. It has a more pungent taste than white pepper due to higher levels of compounds called isothiocyanates. These are what give your tongue that tingly sensation! Plus, they contain antioxidants – so it’s good for you too!
Ripe peppercorns are harvested, then soaked in water to ferment. Finally, the outer layer is removed leaving only the inner seed. This process produces a much stronger, less pungent taste than black pepper. Even though it’s more expensive, white pepper has become increasingly popular recently because many consumers think it tastes better than traditional black pepper.
Uses of pepper
We have been consuming black pepper for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence suggests that people were using black pepper as a form of currency as early as 2,000 years ago. Even today, it remains a popular seasoning and preservative.
Here are a few examples of how it’s used:
Black pepper is added to many savory dishes from spicy rasam or sambar to biriyani, pasta sauces to barbeque rubs. Pepper’s distinct bite helps bring out flavors and amplifies other seasonings in the food.
In addition to promoting general health by keeping digestion regular and boosting immune system function, black peppercorns also contain an active component called piperine—an alkaloid responsible for reducing inflammation in your body. These anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce symptoms of joint pain or stiffness associated with arthritis, acid reflux and even cold symptoms. It can also ease aches caused by physical activity such as exercise or weightlifting.
Piperine can inhibit enzymes that break down fat cells in your body, which essentially helps prevent excess fat storage. Lowering calorie absorption may boost metabolism levels to speed up weight loss. Research has linked black pepper consumption with lower BMI levels—and you should consider tossing some into your next meal if you’re looking to lose weight quickly!
Respiratory System Aid
When paired with ginger juice or honey, black pepper effectively soothes coughs associated with common cold symptoms or sore throats caused by flu or strep throat infections.
Health Benefits of consuming Black Pepper
The tiny black peppercorns have a number of beneficial properties. Here’s what you need to know about them:
Consuming black pepper can help in controlling cholesterol levels in your body. Simply add a few grains of black pepper in your daily meals and see how it helps control LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
Cancer Prevention Agent
According to a study published in Nutrition & Metabolism, regular consumption of black pepper can prevent cell damage linked with cancerous growths. In addition, piperine found in black peppers is known for its ability to destroy enzymes responsible for causing oxidative stress and cell damage.
A couple of studies revealed that black pepper has potent anti-inflammatory properties that can be helpful in fighting numerous inflammatory diseases including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and even asthma.
Black pepper contains piperine which aids in digestion by stimulating bile secretion. It also improves nutrient absorption by increasing intestinal flora activity thereby promoting faster healing after infections or injuries inside intestines.
Both compounds present in black pepper (piperine and capsaicin) are good antioxidants; they increase resistance to free radicals thereby preventing oxidation associated damages like premature aging or wrinkling of skin etc.
How to store pepper?
Though there are difference between black and white peppers, the mode of storage is the same for both. Pepper can be stored in an airtight container for a couple of years at room temperature. It should not be refrigerated. The smell and taste of pepper will diminish once it is ground; however, freshly ground pepper has a stronger flavor than pre-ground. If you buy whole peppercorns and grind them as needed, you’ll get fresher and more flavorful results than using pre-ground pepper. On average, about 20 percent of peppercorn’s weight is lost after grinding it. This means that if you need 1 tablespoon of black pepper before grinding it into powder, then your after-grinding measurement would be closer to 1⁄3 tablespoon rather than 1 tablespoon.