White pepper and black pepper are a staple in most kitchens. Often people interchange between the two substituting one for the other without much thought. Both white pepper and black pepper come from the Piper nigrum plant. Black pepper is made from the drupes of the unripe plant while white pepper is made from the ripe pepper plant and has the darker skin covering removed. The presence of the dark covering gives black pepper a more complex taste than white pepper which has a milder taste.
Because they have the same source, the benefits to be gained from white pepper are also present in black pepper. If someone is allergic to one, they’ll be allergic to the other as well. Most people with sensitivity prefer white pepper because it’s milder and less likely to aggravate their sinuses.
White and black pepper benefits
1. Reduces inflammation
White pepper is rich in antioxidants which can help alleviate inflammation preventing health problems in the long run. Many studies suggest that piperine – the main active compound in black pepper may also effectively fight inflammation.
2. Promotes proper digestion
Piperine present in both black and white pepper has been shown to stimulate the release of pancreatic and digestive enzymes as well as increase saliva production to help your body break down food more efficiently.
Black pepper can also increase the good bacteria in your gut. Black pepper helps to stimulate hydrochloric acid on your stomach so that you can digest and absorb the foods you eat. It also reduces discomfort and gas buildup in your intestines.
3. Rich in antioxidants
Both black and white pepper are rich in antioxidants with black pepper having a higher concentration. Antioxidants are compounds that fight free radicals preventing oxidative stress and preventing damage to the cells. Excess free radicals may lead to major health problems including inflammation, premature ageing, heart disease, and certain cancers.
4. Decrease blood pressure
Eating a high amount of sodium, salt, can cause your body to retain excess water thus raising your blood pressure and piling additional strain on your heart muscles, and increasing your risk of heart disease. White and black pepper are sodium-free allowing you to add flavour to your food while simultaneously cutting down your salt intake.
One study found that piperine was able to prevent increases in blood pressure and helped dilate blood vessels keeping blood pressure in check. What You Need To Know About Hypertension And High Blood Pressure
5. May benefit your brain
Piperine has been shown to improve brain function in animal studies. It has demonstrated potential benefits especially in relation to symptoms related to degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Brain Food: 8 Foods That Promote Mental Health
6. May improve blood sugar control
Studies suggest that piperine may help improve blood sugar metabolism. In a study, participants taking piperine experienced significant improvements in insulin sensitivity. More research is needed though on whether black pepper alone without a mixture of other compounds would achieve the same results.
7. May have cancer-fighting properties
Researchers hypothesize that piperine may have cancer-fighting properties. Lab tests have found that piperine slowed the replication of breast, prostate, and colon cancer cells and induced cancer cell death. Another study observed that piperine from black pepper was the most effective at enhancing the efficacy of traditional treatment for triple-negative breast cancer, the most aggressive cancer type. Piperine has also shown promising effects in laboratory studies for reversing multidrug resistance in cancer cells – an issue that interferes with the efficacy of chemotherapy treatment.
White pepper benefits
1. Helps treat diarrhoea
One study found that stir-fried white pepper was effective at reducing diarrhoea frequency in children and infants especially for those with persistent and acute diarrhoea. Other studies have found that piperine exhibited antidiarrheal effects that could promote regularity.
Black pepper benefits
1. Immune support
Black pepper has active compounds that boost white blood cells which the body uses to fight off infections.
2. May lower cholesterol levels
In one animal study, rats that were fed on a high-fat diet along with a black pepper extract had decreased blood cholesterol levels. More research is needed but this could be great news because high blood cholesterol is associated with dangerous health conditions like increased risk of heart disease which is the leading cause of death worldwide.
Using black vs white pepper
White pepper goes well with light dishes, soups, stews, and chowders. It’s usually used in ‘white’ or plain foods like pasta instead of black pepper which would end up with specks floating on the surface. It’s largely an aesthetic choice or choosing white because it’s milder. Black pepper is versatile and can be used in most dishes.