Black pepper is well known as a basic seasoning, but I don’t believe it receives the attention it deserves. Like salt, the type of pepper can make all the difference in taste and nutrients. Black pepper has a long history of use in traditional medicine, with many health benefits attributed to its consumption. It is said to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may even help improve digestion. Some studies have shown that black pepper can help increase the absorption of certain nutrients from food.
As stated in this article in Wed MD: “More than just a food flavor enhancer, black pepper offers health benefits thanks to its bioactive compounds, with piperine being the most important. Piperine is a natural alkaloid that gives black pepper its pungent taste. It is also the main component that gives black pepper its health-boosting qualities.
“Piperine is considered a type of antioxidant that helps to lower the risk of chronic illnesses like atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and neurological conditions.
“This compound has a positive effect on nutrient bioavailability as well. Adding black pepper to your meal increases the nutrients absorbed into your bloodstream.
“Black pepper helps to stimulate hydrochloric acid in your stomach so you can better digest and absorb the foods you eat. It also has carminative properties, which help reduce discomfort and gas buildup in your intestines.
“Whenever possible, grind your pepper from peppercorns when preparing a meal. Eating freshly ground black pepper gives you more health benefits than pre-ground black pepper. Using fresh peppercorns also ensures you eat pure black pepper, not pepper mixed with other additives.”
Black pepper also supports immunity and is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Trading in your pre-ground pepper for whole peppercorns and a pepper grinder is a small change that will support your health, and you’ll find the taste of freshly ground peppercorns is notably more flavorful. Fresh ground pepper adds the right touch to a dish without the additives, preservatives, iodized salt, or sugar commonly found in commercially made seasonings and condiments.
Black pepper is so satisfying and flavorful that the Italians put fresh ground pepper on center stage with the pasta dish cacio e pepe- pasta with fresh black pepper. In minutes, you can create this delicious dish with butter, freshly cracked pepper, pasta, and pecorino Romano or parmesan cheese.
You can find a pepper grinder in the grocery store that is already filled with peppercorns, but I recommend buying one you can refill. There is a nice selection on Amazon, but I also suggest looking at local specialty shops, craft shows, and farmers' markets for something unique and meaningful and passing it on to the next generation.
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