Black pepper is today’s spice highlight on the Superhuman Food Pyramid.
As small as a single peppercorn is, this spice was actually one of the main causes that set off the Age of Discovery and all the exploration and colonization that entailed. Black pepper used to be so scarce and expensive that Europeans had to find new routes into Asia where the spice originated. Now it is a common condiment just like regular table salt.
Besides adding a little pep (a word derived from “pepper”) to your dishes, black pepper has a lot to offer in terms of health. It also carries some risks which means it should only be used in moderation.
Read more about the pros and cons of black pepper and how it can be properly used in your quest to Become Superhuman…
Black Pepper Benefits:
Just like red pepper, black pepper has a thermogenic effect when ingested. The spice stimulates your metabolism and thus temporarily increases body heat. A higher basal metabolic rate means higher energy expenditure or more calories burned. Athletes usually take food that produces this effect as part of their weight loss regimen.
Traditional medicine has long considered black pepper as an aid to digestion. Your stomach reacts to the spice by secreting more hydrochloric acid. As a result any food that came along with the black pepper is more thoroughly broken down.
When the food reaches the small intestines, the broken down components are more easily absorbed. There is less material left for the bacteria in the large intestines to consume and so less gas is likely to be produced. This is why black pepper is considered a good carminative.
The nutrient substances most abundant in black pepper are manganese and Vitamin K. Manganese is an enzyme activator and some of the enzymes it triggers are those necessary for the processing of other nutrients like ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and thiamin (Vitamin B1). Vitamin K meanwhile is the critical nutrient that enables blood to clot.
Black Pepper Risks:
Piperine is to black pepper as capsaicin is to red pepper. They are the main substances that give these spices their hot flavor and they affect nerve receptors in the same way. While piperine may be less potent than its chili counterpart in this regard, overly sensitive or allergic individuals may receive a painful sensation rather than a spicy hot one.
Avoid inhaling powdered black pepper or getting it in contact with your eyes.
Black pepper has also been found to have some potentially risky interactions with some medications. The spice seems to affect the way the liver breaks down certain pharmaceutical medicines. This may possibly lead to increasing the chances of occurrence of the drug’s side effects.
Some of the medicines identified are ketoconazole (Nizoral), fexofenadine (Allegra), and ovastatin (Mevacor). If you’re taking some medication consult a medical professional before you significantly add black pepper in your diet.
Black Pepper Practical Uses:
Black pepper loses flavor and aroma through evaporation. Piperine can also react to light and turn into an almost tasteless compound. The best way to store the spice is as dried peppercorns in a pepper mill or in an otherwise airtight container. Then keep the container in dry, cool and dark area of the kitchen. You should also only grind them immediately before use to get the full flavor.
Besides directly adding the spice during cooking preparations or on a finished dish, black pepper can be added to fruit vinegars to add some spicy kick to such a sauce. Simply place some the dried peppercorns into a bottle of raspberry vinegar for example. In time the sauce will acquire a more pungent flavor.
For therapeutic purposes, black pepper essential oil is the best form for topical application. In moderate amounts it can be spread in areas with muscle or joint pains. The piperine serves as a counter-irritant analgesic.
In the next post, I’ll tell you about the pros and cons of fermented soy sauce and how it should be used in moderation in your quest to Become Superhuman.
In the meantime, if you care to jump ahead, here is a complete listing of the herbs, spices and sweeteners on Superhuman Food Pyramid:
If you have questions, comments or feedback about the pros and cons of black pepper, the Superhuman Food Pyramid, this website, or other aspects of Becoming Superhuman, then leave your thoughts below, as well as any tips you have on the pros and cons of black pepper.