Black Pepper Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Crushed black pepper


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Black pepper is one of the earliest known spices native to the Malabar Coast of India and is one of the most commonly used spices worldwide. Used widely in cooking, black pepper offers many health benefits.

The plant itself is a tall woody plant with small flowers that bloom a yellowish red color. The flower bears a seed, which many people refer to as a peppercorn. This peppercorn is then ground into black pepper.

Black pepper has a spicy, aromatic flavor that is derived from piperine located on the outer fruit and the seed. The pepper loses flavor through evaporation, so it is best to store your pepper in an airtight container. Piperine is known to increase the absorption of selenium, vitamin B12, and turmeric.

Black Pepper Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information for 1 tablespoon (6.9 grams) of black pepper is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 17
  • Fat: 0.2g
  • Sodium: 1.38mg
  • Carbohydrates: 4.4g
  • Fiber: 1.8g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 0.7g
  • Magnesium: 11.8mg
  • Vitamin K: 11.3mg


Carbs

One tablespoon of black pepper contains 4.4 grams of carbohydrates. In cooking, typically less than 1 tablespoon is used. This would have almost no effect on blood sugar levels and the amount of carbohydrates added to the dish is virtually insignificant. There are almost 2 grams of fiber in 1 tablespoon of black pepper, making the glycemic effect and impact on blood sugar minimal.

Fats

Black pepper contains an insignificant amount of fat and is cholesterol-free.

Protein

Black pepper has a very small amount of protein. Be sure to include other sources of protein in your diet.

Vitamins and Minerals

Black pepper is a good source of many vitamins and minerals. It also is an excellent source of manganese, which is important for bone health, wound healing, and a healthy metabolism.

Black pepper is also a significant source of vitamin K, necessary for blood clotting, bone metabolism, and regulating blood calcium levels. Additionally, black pepper contains vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, B vitamins, calcium, and potassium.

Calories

At 17 calories per tablespoon, black pepper is not a significant source of calories.

Health Benefits

Black pepper is a versatile spice used in a variety of dishes. Here are some of the potential health benefits of using black pepper.

Helps Decrease Inflammation

The main active component in black pepper, piperine, is shown to decrease inflammation. Chronic inflammation can be a cause of diabetes, arthritis, asthma, and heart disease.

While the anti-inflammatory effects of black pepper have not been extensively studied in humans, there are a number of mouse studies that show promising results. In one study in rats, treatment for arthritis with piperine resulted in less joint swelling and decreased markers of inflammation.

Contains Antioxidants

Piperine, the active compound in black pepper, is rich in antioxidants, which prevent or delay damaging effects of free radicals from exposure to pollution, cigarette smoke, and the sun.

Free radicals are associated with some diseases such as heart disease and cancer. In one study, those with a diet of concentrated black pepper had less free radical damage than the group without the concentrated black pepper.

Improves Brain Function

Piperine has been shown to decrease symptoms associated with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease as well as improve brain function. Studies show piperine increased memory as well as the ability to decrease the production of amyloid plaques, which are damaging proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Improves Blood Sugar Control

Some studies suggest that piperine can improve blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity. In one study, 86 individuals with insulin resistance took a piperine-containing supplement for 8 weeks. After the 8 weeks, improvements were seen in their insulin sensitivity, or the ability to respond to the hormone insulin to remove glucose from the blood.

Increases Absorption of Nutrients

Black pepper is considered to have nutrient synergy, or the ability to combine with other foods to have a positive health effect. Black pepper increases the absorption of certain nutrients such as calcium, selenium, green tea, and turmeric. It is often recommended to consume calcium or selenium with a source of black pepper and to ensure any turmeric supplement you take contains black pepper.

Allergies

Black pepper allergies can manifest as tingling or itching in the mouth, hives, abdominal pain, and possible nausea and vomiting. Symptoms may also include wheezing and congestion or swelling of the lips, tongue, mouth, and throat. You should seek medical attention for life-threatening food allergy symptoms.

If you believe you are allergic to black pepper, see a healthcare provider who can perform testing to determine the root cause of your symptoms. In the meantime, you can substitute black pepper with other spices such as chili powder, cayenne pepper, and allspice.

Varieties

There are more than 600 varieties of black pepper spice, but only a few are commonly used in cooking. They each have characteristic tastes such as acidity, sweetness, and citrus flavors, that determine how they are used in different dishes.

For example, the Lampong variety from Indonesia has a very citrusy aroma and woodsy taste making it great for crusting steak. Or the Sarawak variety from Malaysia has an earthy, mild flavor perfect for barbecue rubs. Different types of peppercorns can also be combined and ground into a blend of flavors.

Storage

Whole peppercorns sealed in a container and stored in a cool, dry place can last up to 1 year. Ground black pepper loses its flavor over time, so be sure to use it within 4 to 6 months.

Recipes

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