Black pepper is a wonder spice, indeed. Sprinkle it regularly on your food, and you will reap tremendous health benefits. Studies have shown that black pepper aids digestion, improves brain function and boosts immunity. Centuries ago, ayurvedic healers postulated that black pepper is a warming spice that reduces the kapha dosha, which is associated with lethargy, weight gain and depression.
New studies now support this theory, expressed in modern terms: black pepper assists weight loss. A recent study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, shows the main substance in black pepper, known as piperine, can stop the formation of new fat cells. The results of this study were definite: Piperine reduces fat levels in the bloodstream and has other beneficial health rewards, such as antioxidant properties.
So what is the secret? At this point, scientists know that piperine somehow interferes with the activity of genes responsible for fat formation—even in mice fed a high-fat, high-sugar diet. Additional studies continue to be done to find out more.
Some studies show that eating spicy foods can boost metabolism by as much as 8 percent and the effects last for hours after eating the food. Eating pepper gives the body the advantage of being able to draw and digest more nutrients from the food because piperine increases the bio-availability of foods and nutrients to the body.
An indirect way black pepper helps you eat less: by improving your mood so you refrain from comfort eating. According to a study published in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology, black pepper acts as a natural anti-depressant. The piperine in pepper increases cognitive function of the brain, helps in stimulating the nervous system and inhibits molecules that cause depression. Not only that: black pepper is also found to increase the levels of serotonin, famous as the “happy hormone”.
So go ahead, sprinkle black pepper over your salads, stews, soups and stir-fries. Even a small amount of this healing spice will yield big benefits.