Black pepper is one of the most commonly used spices worldwide.
It’s made by grinding peppercorns, which are dried berries from the vine Piper nigrum.
It has a sharp and mildly spicy flavor that goes well with many dishes.
But black pepper is more than just a kitchen staple. It has been deemed the “king of spices” and used in ancient Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years due to its high concentration of potent, beneficial plant compounds (1Trusted Source, 2).
Here are 11 science-backed health benefits of black pepper.
1. High in antioxidants
Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage your cells.
Black pepper is rich in a potent antioxidant called piperine, which may help prevent free radical damage to your cells.
2. Has anti-inflammatory properties
Chronic inflammation may be an underlying factor in many conditions, such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer
Black pepper contains an active compound that has been shown to decrease inflammation in animals. Still, it’s unclear whether it has the same effects in humans.
3. May benefit your brain
Piperine has been shown to improve brain function in animal studies.
Black pepper extract has improved symptoms of degenerative brain diseases in animal studies, but studies in humans are needed to verify these results.
4. May improve blood sugar control
Studies suggest that piperine may help improve blood sugar metabolism
Black pepper extract may improve blood sugar control, but more research is needed.
5. May lower cholesterol levels
High blood cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death worldwide
Black pepper has demonstrated cholesterol-lowering effects in rodent studies and is believed to boost the absorption of potential cholesterol-lowering supplements.
6. May have cancer-fighting properties
Black pepper contains an active compound that has slowed the replication of cancer cells and induced cancer cell death in test-tube studies. However, these effects have not been studied in people.
7–10. Other benefits
Black pepper may benefit health in many other ways according to preliminary research:
7. Boosts absorption of nutrients. Black pepper may increase the absorption of essential nutrients like calcium and selenium, as well some beneficial plant compounds, such as those found in green tea and turmeric (1Trusted Source, 44Trusted Source).
8. May promote gut health. The makeup of your gut bacteria has been linked to immune function, mood, chronic diseases, and more. Preliminary research suggests that black pepper may increase the good bacteria in your gut (1Trusted Source, 45Trusted Source).
9. May offer pain relief. Though it has yet to be studied in humans, studies in rodents suggest that the piperine in black pepper may be a natural pain reliever (46Trusted Source, 47Trusted Source).
10. May reduce appetite. In a small study, 16 adults reported reduced appetite after drinking a black-pepper-based beverage compared to flavored water. However, other studies did not show the same effects (48Trusted Source, 49Trusted Source).
Black pepper increases the absorption of essential nutrients and beneficial plant compounds. According to preliminary research, it may also promote gut health, offer pain relief, and reduce appetite.
11. A versatile spice
Black pepper has become a kitchen staple in households worldwide.
Black pepper has a subtle heat and a bold flavor that makes it a tasty addition to almost any dish.
The bottom line
Black pepper and its active compound piperine may have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Laboratory studies suggest that black pepper may improve cholesterol levels, blood sugar control, and brain and gut health.
Despite these promising findings, more studies in humans are needed to better understand the exact health benefits of black pepper and its concentrated extracts.
Regardless, this versatile flavor-enhancer is worth adding to your daily cooking routine, as its bold flavor is a great addition to almost any dish.