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We are all familiar with ground black pepper. In fact it is one of the most common and most used of all of the herbs and spices. At one time it was so important that it was used as currency and presented as an offering to the gods. You are sure to find black pepper at almost every home in your neighborhood. But most people no longer have an understanding of why the use of black pepper became so common. They also don’t understand why it was important to include black pepper with meals.
Of course, the ground pepper that we find at the grocery store is not exactly how pepper originates. It is from the pepper plant which is common in tropical climates. When the pepper plant flowers, those flowers turn into little hard berries, known as peppercorns. These peppercorns are rich in nutrients such as manganese, vitamin K and copper.
How our ancestors used herbs and spices
Our ancestors did not use herbs and spices for flavoring alone. They were very well aware of the health properties of each different herb and spice. And they used those seasonings with food for a purpose. Black pepper was used with most meals because it helps to facilitate the production of hydrochloric acid, which aids in the digestion of foods. Black pepper can also help to reduce gas caused by foods.
There are more than just digestive benefits from consuming black pepper. Because it is a hot herb, eating it can cause you to sweat, helping to release toxins from the body. It is also beneficial for those dealing with colds or other upper respiratory infections. This is because the pepper contains both decongestant and expectorant properties.
So if eating black pepper is so good for you, then why shouldn’t you use ground black pepper? Well there is a very important one! Once the hard shell of the peppercorn has been broken, the pepper begins to lose flavor and the scent dissipates within an hour. This is the most important reason…..as the scent and flavor dissipate from the cracked peppercorn, so do the health benefits of the pepper. If you would like to take advantage of the great health benefits of the black pepper, then avoid ground pepper and instead, invest in a great pepper mill and keep it filled with high quality, organic peppercorns. That way you can grind them fresh when you need them for a recipe or to top your meal.
A pepper mill like this one is easy to use and inexpensive as well. If you like an automated mill, check out this one. I usually get my organic peppercorns from a natural food store like Whole Foods or Earth Fare, but online stores like Mountain Rose Herbs also carry them, and they can even be purchased in a grinder bottle.
Just remember, with black pepper it is best to keep it fresh….that is, grind it fresh so that not only will you benefit from better seasoning, but from the amazing health benefits as well!