When I was a little kid, I remember my grandma taking me to a church dinner and chastising a young woman who was peppering her soup with abandon. “You know that pepper will ball up in your intestines and kill you if you eat too much,” my grandma warned. “Your body won’t digest pepper.” I was so scared by her admonishment that it was years before I’d ever touch pepper again.
As an adult, I shake a pepper shaker 30 times over my meal before I will eat it. I LOVE pepper, the more the better. If pepper is the main thing I can taste with my food, I am a happy girl. So, is this an innocent affinity for my favorite seasoning? Or is there really a huge ball of pepper in my intestines that is waiting to kill me one day? Is there anything wrong with consuming a lot of pepper? Let’s find out.
Pepper is actually the exact opposite of salt when it comes to nutrition and health. Pepper (classic black pepper, anyhow) contains piperine, a substance that helps our bodies absorb nutrients that we eat. You won’t find piperine in any other pepper than the classic black ground pepper that so commonly sits next to the not-so-healthy salt, however. So pepper is actually quite good for you. It can even help break down gas in the body as food digests. Black pepper also has many antioxidants, and helps battle bacteria in the intestinal tract. Hot damn! I never knew black pepper was so great!
So it looks like my grandma was wrong- I don’t have a huge ball of pepper in my intestines, waiting to kill me. Quite the opposite- I’m actually helping my body get the most vitamins and nutrients from the foods I eat, keeping gas at bay, and keeping my intestinal tract quite healthy. So it looks like I don’t need to give up pepper anytime soon, in fact, I think I’ll start piling more on.