Pepper during Pregnancy: Nutritional Value, Benefits and Side-Effects

Black Pepper During Pregnancy – Health Benefits and Side Effects

Medically Reviewed By
Anindita Bhattacharya (Diabetologist/Nutritionist/Dietitian)
View more Diabetologist/Nutritionist/Dietitian Our Panel of Experts

Many women crave spicy food during pregnancy and it’s normal. However spicy foods are not really safe for consumption during pregnancy. The quintessential spice additives green chillies and red chillies are not recommended during pregnancy as they cause acidity, heartburn, and other digestion problems. The next best alternative pregnant women consider is black pepper. Black pepper in pregnancy has medicinal properties and is good for health. But when it comes to pregnancy, you wouldn’t want to take chances. So if you want to include it in your pregnancy diet, find out whether black pepper during pregnancy is recommended.

Is It Safe to Eat Black Pepper During Pregnancy?

Yes, black pepper is likely safe for consumption during pregnancy, but it should be consumed in moderation. Like any other food, it is harmless when consumed in moderation. It can be used alone or in combination with cumin powder for seasoning salads, fruits and vegetables. Excess consumption of pepper, however, can lead to acidity, abortion, indigestion, and burning sensation.

Nutritional Facts of Black Pepper

Black pepper is an excellent source of some vital nutrients. It is packed with vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin K. It also contains essential minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and copper. It is a very good source of antioxidants too.

Health Benefits of Consuming Black Pepper During Pregnancy

Including black pepper in your pregnancy diet (in moderation, of course!) can be very beneficial for your health during pregnancy. Some of them are listed below.

1. It helps improve immunity

Black pepper is known to improve the immunity of the body. During pregnancy, a regular and optimal intake of pepper in the diet serves as a natural immunity booster.

2. It improves digestion

The growing uterus in pregnancy presses against the digestive system and causes acidity, indigestion, and heartburn. One of the natural ways of combating this problem during pregnancy is to include pepper in your diet frequently (1). It significantly reduces flatulence and bloating that occurs during pregnancy.

3. It provides relief from cough and cold

If you have a cold and cough during pregnancy, taking medicines for the same is not recommended as they may interact with pregnancy medication and cause side effects. But you can try some simple home remedies for cough and cold. One of the best home remedies for curing a bout of cold is including pepper in all the foods. Adding pepper to a soup can also alleviate the symptoms of the cold.

4. It may help fight depression

Depression is common among pregnant women both during pregnancy and after delivery. Consumption of pepper in small amounts can ensure good mental and emotional health but it should not be consumed daily as it may affect your health adversely.

5. It keeps blood pressure in check

Blood pressure can be harmful to an expecting mother as it can lead to further complications in the last trimester and during delivery. Slightly elevated blood pressure can be controlled naturally by the regular consumption of pepper (2).

6. It may help prevent cancer

The antioxidants in pepper can help in combating the rapid changes in the body of an expecting mother and prevent free radicals from attacking healthy tissues to cause cancer. Pepper contains antioxidant piperine, which may help kill certain cancer cells and even inhibit the growth of cancerous cells (3). Pepper along with turmeric can even prevent the growth of cancerous cells in breasts.

7. Enhanced Nutrient Absorption

Black pepper contains piperine, which has been shown to enhance the absorption of essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals. During pregnancy, this can ensure that both the mother and the developing baby receive optimal nutrition.

8. Reduced Swelling and Water Retention

Pregnant women often experience swelling in their extremities due to water retention. Black pepper has diuretic properties that can help reduce swelling and alleviate discomfort associated with water retention during pregnancy.

Adding pepper to salad

Side Effects of Consuming Pepper During Pregnancy

Pepper can be consumed during pregnancy and it won’t cause any harm if you include it in your diet in moderation. However some women experience certain side effects even if taken in small amounts.

1. It may lead to an allergic reaction

Some women may experience an allergic reaction to some food substances during pregnancy. Pepper can trigger a series of symptoms indicating an allergy. If you experience any such reaction, it is better to avoid the intake of pepper, especially during pregnancy. You can try adding just a pinch of it to give the required spicy flavour and check if the reaction persists. You can also consult your doctor if the allergic symptoms are severe.

2. It may result in a burning sensation

Experiencing a burning sensation in the stomach or throat after consumption of pepper is quite normal. But during pregnancy, when there are issues of indigestion and heartburn, consumption of pepper can sometimes worsen the situation. In such cases, it is best to avoid spicy foods.

3. It can increase body heat

If yours is a summer pregnancy, it is best that you ditch the spicy items as they can increase body heat. Including pepper or other spices in your diet can increase the heat of the body and cause indigestion issues, mouth ulcers, and other such complications.

Different Ways to Eat Pepper in Pregnancy

During pregnancy, incorporating black pepper into your diet can offer various health benefits. Here are some creative and delicious ways to include black pepper in your meals:

  • Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper over salads or soups for added flavor and a nutritional boost.
  • Use black pepper as a seasoning for grilled or roasted vegetables to enhance their taste.
  • Add a pinch of black pepper to scrambled eggs or omelets for a flavorful breakfast option.
  • Mix black pepper into marinades or rubs for meats or tofu before cooking to add depth of flavor.
  • Combine black pepper with other spices like turmeric, cumin, and coriander to create flavorful seasoning blends for meat, fish, or vegetables.
  • Incorporate black pepper into homemade salad dressings or sauces for an extra kick.
  • Stir freshly ground black pepper into cooked grains like rice or quinoa for a tasty side dish.
  • Sprinkle black pepper over avocado toast or mashed avocado for a simple and nutritious snack option.
  • Blend black pepper into smoothies or juices along with other fruits and vegetables for a spicy kick and added health benefits.

Things to Keep in Mind While Using Black Pepper in Cooking During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, it’s important to be mindful of how you use black pepper in cooking to ensure both your health and the health of your baby. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Moderation: While black pepper can provide health benefits, it’s essential to use it in moderation during pregnancy. Excessive consumption may lead to gastrointestinal discomfort or heartburn.
  • Freshly Ground: Whenever possible, opt for freshly ground black pepper instead of pre-ground pepper. Freshly ground pepper retains more of its flavor and nutritional properties.
  • Check for Allergies: Some individuals may have allergies or sensitivities to black pepper. If you’re unsure or have a history of allergies, consult with your healthcare provider before incorporating it into your diet.
  • Quality Matters: Choose high-quality black pepper for pregnancy from reputable sources to ensure purity and minimize the risk of contamination with additives or pesticides.
  • Consult Healthcare Provider: Before making significant changes to your diet, especially during pregnancy, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider. They can provide personalized guidance based on your individual health needs and medical history.

Warning

Including pepper in your diet in normal doses may not cause any harm but it does have potential side effects for pregnant women. Other than causing digestion and gastrointestinal problems, it may make the pregnancy journey difficult for a woman. Excessive consumption of black pepper must be avoided as it may also cause early contraction, heartburn, etc. Furthermore, if black pepper oil is used topically (on the skin), it may act as a uterine stimulant and lead to early contractions.

FAQs

1. Can black pepper be included in herbal teas or remedies when pregnant?

Yes, black pepper can be included in herbal teas or remedies during pregnancy, but it’s essential to use it in moderation. Excessive consumption may lead to gastrointestinal discomfort or heartburn. Consult with your healthcare provider before incorporating black pepper into herbal teas, especially if you have any concerns or medical conditions.

2. Are there alternative spices recommended over black pepper during pregnancy?

While black pepper can be consumed in moderation during pregnancy, some alternative spices may be recommended if you have specific dietary restrictions or preferences. Examples include ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and cardamom, which offer similar flavor profiles and potential health benefits. Consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for personalized recommendations based on your individual needs and preferences.

This was all about black pepper and pregnancy. Pepper is the king of spices and it offers numerous benefits for the health. However, pepper during pregnancy first trimester, second, and even third trimester, should be consumed in moderation. Adding a dash of it to your diet is sure to help you tide over a lot of pregnancy-related health concerns easily. But do consult a doctor before making it a part of your diet!

References/Resources:

1. Srinivasan. K; Black pepper and its pungent principle-piperine: a review of diverse physiological effects (Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition); National Library of Medicine; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17987447/

2. Whelton. P, Cutler. J, Brancati. F, Appel. L, et al.; Effects of oral potassium on blood pressure. Meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials (JAMA); National Library of Medicine; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9168293/; May 1997 

3. Vijayakumar. R, Surya. D, Nalini. N; Antioxidant efficacy of black pepper (Piper nigrum L.) and piperine in rats with high fat diet induced oxidative stress (Redox Report); National Library of Medicine; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15231065/

4. Spices, pepper, black; Food Data Central; U.S. Department of Agriculture; https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170931/nutrients

5. Phillips. K, Ruggio. D, Ashraf-Khorassani. M, Haytowitz. D; Difference in folate content of green and red sweet peppers (Capsicum annuum) determined by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry); National Library of Medicine; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17177533/; December 2006

6. Wintergerst. E, Maggini. S, Hornig. D; Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions; National Library of Medicine; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16373990/

7. Herbs and Pregnancy; American Pregnancy Association; https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/is-it-safe/herbs-and-pregnancy/

Also Read: 

Eating Cloves during Pregnancy
Cinnamon (Dalchini) in Pregnancy
Consuming Ginger during Pregnancy
Is it Safe to Eat Poppy Seeds while Pregnant

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