Black Pepper: Important Facts, Health Benefits, and Recipes

Black pepper is a versatile and widely used spice known for its pungent flavor and potential health benefits, such as improving nutrient absorption.

What Is Black Pepper?

Black peppercorns are small dried fruits, the drupe (a fruit with thin skin and a seed in the middle) of a flowering vine called piper nigrum that grows in tropical regions. To get black pepper, you pick almost-ripe green peppercorns and let them dry until they turn black. Piperine is the bioactive compound in black peppercorns that is responsible for most the health benefits found in peppercorns.

Is Black Pepper Good For You?

Yes. Piperine is the bioactive compound in black peppercorns that is responsible for most the health benefits found in peppercorns.

9 Health Benefits Of Black Pepper

  1. Piperine, the bioactive compound in black peppercorns, is considered to be a type of antioxidant that might reduce the risk of heart disease.
  2. Black pepper helps stimulate the release of stomach acid, improving the digestion of proteins. 
  3. Some studies suggest that black pepper may improve cholesterol levels, decreasing total and LDL cholesterol.
  4. Black pepper is also a source of Vitamin C, K, E, and A.
  5. Black pepper is a good source of manganese, a mineral that helps improve bone health, wound healing, and metabolism
  6. Black pepper’s compound piperine can help the immune system, playing a role in boosting white blood cells that can fight off bacteria and viruses.
  7. Black pepper may increase the absorption of essential nutrients like calcium and selenium, as well some important plant compounds, like curcumin found in turmeric, which may help lower cholesterol.
  8. Black pepper may have anti-inflammatory components.
  9. Piperine may help with blood sugar control.

History, Background About General Facts about Black Pepper

  • Black pepper is indigenous to Kerala, a province in southwest India.
  • Black pepper has one of the longest histories as an important spice because of its ability to flavor foods and act as a preservative. 
  • About 39 percent of all black pepper production comes from Vietnam. Indonesia produces about 15 percent, and India and Brazil each produce about 10 percent.
  • Pepper was an important spice on the Silk Road trade route. Italy was a prominent country in the trading industry. Ancient Rome highly valued black pepper, even using it as currency. They were one of the first groups of people to use the spice extensively in cooking.

What Are The Cuisines That Regularly Include Black Pepper?

  • Italian - cacio e pepe
  • Chinese - black pepper tofu
  • Middle Eastern - baharat spice blend
  • Indian - curries and garam masala
  • Singapore - black pepper crab
  • Moroccan - seven-spice blend
  • French - steak au poivre

What Is The Best Way To Store Black Pepper?

The best way to store black peppercorns is in a cool, dry place away from heat and sunlight, such as a pantry.

What Are The Different Types Of Black Pepper?

The color of the peppercorn depends on when it was harvested and what sort of processing was used after harvesting.

Black Pepper and Black Peppercorns 

  • Grown as green peppercorns in long thin bunches similar on the vine, similar to grapes.
  • The green peppercorns are then removed from the vine, cooked, and put in the sun to dry.
  • The drying process activates enzymes in the peppercorn to turn the skin a dark brown, creating black peppercorns.

Green Peppercorns 

  • Green peppercorns are the unripe version of black peppercorns. They are removed from the vine and treated with preservatives or other substances to stop the enzymes from darkening the skins.
  • Often green peppercorns are brined, making them more perishable than black peppercorns.

White Peppercorns

  • Made from the same fruit as the black and the green varieties, but the fruit is allowed to fully ripen, turning it red. 
  • The fruits are soaked to soften the peppercorn. The skin is removed, leaving the whitish seed, which is then dried. 
  • White pepper is popular in Thai cuisine and is frequently used in light-colored sauces.

Red peppercorns 

  • Produced similar to green peppercorns, only using the fully ripe fruit, which is treated to preserve the red color. 
  • They may also be pickled or dried before use. 

Pink peppercorns 

  • Another variety not related to black peppercorns, also known as Brazilian pepper.

Toxicity and Side Effects Of Black Pepper

If you regularly take any medications, talk to your doctor before you start using a piperine supplement. Black pepper on food is generally considered safe unless you get an adverse reaction to it.

Best Black Pepper Recipes