Move over, salt—pepper has a new best friend. We’ve even got a celebrity name for them: Pumeric!
That’s right, pepper and turmeric make the perfect, health-boosting power couple. Read on for the pairing’s three major benefits.
Dynamic Duo: A Botany Lesson
If you’re a fan of Indian food, then you’re probably already familiar with turmeric. Like curry, it’s a saffron-colored spice that packs a ton of flavor. But turmeric’s allure goes far beyond the taste buds, thanks to its many potential healing properties.
Turmeric is a plant that comes from the ginger family. It’s native to India and Southeast Asia and has been used medicinally for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine. That’s because it contains curcumin, a chemical compound with health-promoting properties. However, taking it alone won’t yield all the benefits you desire.
“Curcumin has a low bioavailability, meaning that it’s not absorbed well in the body,” says Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of DrAxe.com, best-selling author of Eat Dirt, and co-founder of Ancient Nutrition. “To really take advantage of the potent health benefits of turmeric, it’s recommended to pair turmeric with black pepper. The active ingredient in black pepper, piperine, helps increase the absorption of the curcumin found in turmeric.”
Black pepper—which comes from a flowering vine native to South India—is cultivated for its fruit, which is dried and ground into the seasoning you may already have in your kitchen. Much like turmeric, black pepper has been used for thousands of years due to its distinct flavor and ability to increase the absorption of certain nutrients.
In one study, adding just 20 mg of piperine to 2,000 mg of turmeric increased its bioavailability by 154 percent. Yep, you read that correctly. Clearly, these two ingredients go hand-in-hand, so make sure you’re enjoying them together for maximum benefit. (You’ll see that turmeric products like Gaia Herbs’ Golden Milk include black pepper as well.)
There are a few core reasons why you should consider adding turmeric and black pepper to your daily routine:
Curcumin has been shown to be one of the most powerful antioxidant compounds available, which can help fight free radicals (found in pollution). Free radical damage can lead to health risks, says Dr. Axe, which is why he recommends doubling up with turmeric and black pepper as a way to potentially promote health. “Taking black pepper with turmeric can increase its bioavailability and enhance the benefits,” he says.
Reduces Joint Pain
Curcumin has been known to help promote relief from exercise-induced or arthritic joint pain. According to the Arthritis Foundation, it was traditionally used in Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine as a way of blocking joint pain-causing inflammatory cytokines and enzymes. Plus, a study in the Journal of Complimentary and Alternative Medicine found that it’s not only efficient, but it’s generally safe to use.
It Could Make Your Food Healthier
According to a study in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition, black pepper and turmeric could have powerful effects on the lipids (or fats) in certain meats we eat. The study concluded that during preparation of high-fat foods, turmeric and black pepper reduced fat and increased antioxidant activity.
How to Add This Power Duo to Your Life
Besides cooking with turmeric and pepper, or drinking golden milk, you can also supplement with turmeric and piperine. Dr. Axe recommends aiming for 500-1,000 milligrams of curcumin per day. For piperine, you’ll want to aim for up to 20 milligrams per day.
“Taking turmeric extract is an easy way to get in a concentrated dose, but be sure to look for a brand like Doctor’s Best, which contains piperine, to boost absorption and take at whatever time is most convenient for you,” Axe says.
For each teaspoon of turmeric, there are about 200 milligrams of curcumin. Aim for at least 2.5 teaspoons per day and pair each teaspoon with about 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.