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Research Suggests Black Pepper May Have Anti-Cancer Properties

Research Suggests Black Pepper May Have Anti-Cancer Properties

Black pepper isn’t just for turning a boring meal into a tasty one.

You probably use freshly ground black pepper to spice up your meals, but did you know that it has health-boosting antioxidants, too? A study in Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology says pepper contains an ingredient called piperine that has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune-modulatory, anti-asthmatic, anticonvulsant, anti-mutagenic, anti-mycobacterial, anti-amoebic and anti-cancer properties.

And while research in the petri dish and in animals confirms these powers, researchers are hoping to show that pepper is useful in fighting cancer in humans. So while scientists explore how to harness the power of piperine, we say add it to your “food as medicine” pantry.

Grind fresh black pepper onto veggies, soups, salads, lean proteins like skinless chicken. You can even add it on sweet cantaloupe or in smoothies for some zing. But avoid taking piperine in supplements or using it excessively without talking to your doctor. Piperine can increase the bioavailability of some drugs.

Wondering what other foods you should enjoy for their heart-, brain- and gut-loving effects? Eat more: black pepper; turmeric; salmon/sea trout; extra virgin olive oil; walnuts; and berries. Bonus round: Coffee, dark chocolate and red wine!

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

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