Pepper is a dried fruit used for seasoning and is one of the most commonly used spices. You may be skeptical about consuming pepper during pregnancy due to its heat and spiciness. However, you can safely consume a moderate amount of pepper as a cooking ingredient to add a kick to your meals.
Besides enhancing the flavor of food, it has several beneficial properties that can help improve immunity, enhance digestion, and maintain blood pressure levels.
It is normal to worry about whether the foods you consume during pregnancy are safe. Knowing the various benefits and side effects of each food can help you consume them safely and enjoy flavorful and nutritious meals.
Scroll through to learn more about pepper consumption during pregnancy, including its benefits and side effects.
Nutritional Value Of Pepper
Black pepper contains several nutrients, including vitamins K and C, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and copper (1). These nutrients contribute to various physiological functions necessary for health and sustenance. It also has several bioactive compounds, such as piperine, which provides pepper with many health-benefiting properties. Research shows that piperine can help protect the body against free radical damage (2). Piperine may also help enhance nutrient absorption, which can promote the overall health of the mother and her unborn baby.
Benefits Of Pepper During Pregnancy
Apart from its spicy taste, pepper can offer some maternal health benefits, which may also benefit the fetus’s health. Go ahead and check out a few of them:
1. Helps in digestion
During pregnancy, the functioning of your digestive system can go haywire. Pepper can play a role in improving your metabolism by promoting digestion and providing relief from issues like bloating, gas, and cramps (3).
2. Prevents cancer
When you are pregnant, your body has to go through a lot of changes. You may suffer from oxidative damages, which can lead to cancer in the future. Pepper contains carotenoids, which is an antioxidantiXSubstance that protects cell damage caused by free radicals . It can prevent any DNA damage and keep you safe from cancer (4).
3. Fights acne
4. Cures cough and cold
Getting a cold while pregnant can be a real nuisance. Fortunately, pepper can help you out here too. There is no scientific evidence to back this claim, but several cultures from around the world use pepper to treat cold and cough.
5. A natural antidepressant
6. Contains folate
You need folate or folic acid during pregnancy to prevent neural tubeiXA hollow structure in a developing embryo that forms the brain and spinal cord defect and support proper fetal development. Neural tube defects include birth defects of the brain and spine, such as spina bifida and anencephaly, which are the most common types. According to the statistics from the CDC, approximately 1427 babies are affected by spina bifida, and 847 babies are affected by anencephaly in the US annually. All kinds of pepper contain a good quantity of folate, making them an excellent dietary source to support the necessary folate intake during pregnancy (7).
7. Boosts immune system
Your immunity is low during pregnancy. Pepper contains vitamin C that can give your immunity a boost and prevent common illnesses like cold and cough (8).
8. Keeps blood pressure in check
High blood pressure is a big threat to your health during pregnancy. Potassium helps keep blood pressure under control (9). Pepper is rich in potassium and may help prevent hypertension and preeclampsiaiXA pregnancy condition concerning high blood pressure and protein in the urine .
That’s a quite a lot of benefits from the spicy pepper! But there are a few side effects that come with the package too.
Side Effects Of Eating Pepper During Pregnancy
Here are a few side effects of consuming your favorite spice:
1. Gastrointestinal problems
Excessive pepper consumption can cause gastric problems (10). According to Dr. Michael Green, a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist from Lake Arrowhead, “Black pepper is a good source of several minerals and vitamins that can aid digestion if eaten in moderation. While black pepper is generally safe to eat while pregnant, you should always listen to your body. Consuming too much pepper might give you a stomach ache, just like consuming too much of any spice.”
Consuming pepper can cause allergy-like symptoms in some women. If you have experienced such symptoms before, stay clear of black pepper during pregnancy.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is black pepper harmful during pregnancy?
Although moderate and mindful consumption of black pepper is safe, it could sometimes lead to heartburn while pregnant. More research is needed to demonstrate its effects on pregnancy-related complications (11) (12).
2. What spices to avoid in pregnancy?
Excess use of peppermint, poppy seeds, and nutmeg could be avoided when pregnant. Moreover, according to the American Pregnancy Association, saw palmetto, ephedra, passion flower, and pennyroyal are among the herbs that are best avoided during pregnancy (13) (14).
3. Are there any alternative spices or seasonings I should use instead of pepper during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, you may consider using alternative spices or seasonings such as cumin or paprika as substitutes for pepper (15). They offer a milder and distinct taste that may be less biting than pepper. However, it’s advisable to consult your doctor before adding them to your diet.
4. Is it safe to consume pepper during the first trimester of pregnancy?
Gynecologist & obstetrician Dr. Nisarg Patel says, “Yes, you can eat pepper during the first trimester of your pregnancy, as long as you consume it in moderation. Pepper is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, manganese, antioxidants, and other nutrients. It can also help improve your immunity, digestion, blood pressure, and mood. However, eating too much pepper can cause some side effects such as acidity, heartburn, indigestion, a burning sensation, and even miscarriage in rare cases. Therefore, it is advisable to limit your intake of pepper to no more than one teaspoon per day.”
Pepper is a popular spice that’s often used with different culinary herbs to enhance the taste of a dish. Although it is not a source of nutrition, it can offer several health benefits. Thus, expecting women can use pepper during pregnancy in small quantities after consulting a health expert or doctor. Consuming pepper may promote digestion, fight acne, and help relieve cough and cold. However, it does not mean you may load your dishes with all kinds of pepper because it could increase the risk of gastric troubles and allergies. If you crave spicy food, you may add this hot spice to your meal in moderation and consult your doctor if you have any apprehensions.
Infographic: Health Benefits Of Black Pepper During Pregnancy
Black pepper has been an age-old cooking and flavoring ingredient. It is also safe for pregnant women. When consumed in moderation, it is highly beneficial for expecting mothers. Read this infographic to learn about its benefits during pregnancy. Save and share it with other moms-to-be!
- Moderate consumption of pepper during pregnancy is generally considered safe.
- Pepper is a spice used for seasoning and as a flavoring agent for cooking.
- Health benefits of consuming pepper in pregnancy include improved digestion, cancer prevention, combated acne, and relief from cough and cold.
- Pepper also acts as a natural antidepressant, contains folate, boosts the immune system, and regulates blood pressure.
- However, consuming excess pepper during pregnancy may cause side effects such as gastrointestinal problems and allergies.
- Spices, pepper, black.
- Stojanović-Radić, Zorica, et al.; (2019); Piperine-A Major Principle of Black Pepper: A Review of Its Bioactivity and Studies.
- K Srinivasan; (2007); Black pepper and its pungent principle-piperine: a review of diverse physiological effects.
- R S Vijayakumar et al.; (2004); Antioxidant efficacy of black pepper (Piper nigrum L.) and piperine in rats with high fat diet induced oxidative stress.
- Final report on the safety assessment of capsicum annuum extract, capsicum annuum fruit extract, capsicum annuum resin, capsicum annuum fruit powder, capsicum frutescens fruit, capsicum frutescens fruit extract, capsicum frutescens resin, and capsaicin.
- A Possible New Treatment for Depression.
- Katherine M Phillips et al.; (2006); Difference in folate content of green and red sweet peppers (Capsicum annuum) determined by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry.
- Eva S Wintergerst et al.; (2006); Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions.
- P K Whelton et al.; (1997); Effects of oral potassium on blood pressure. Meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials.
- B M Myers et al.; (1987); Effect of red pepper and black pepper on the stomach.
- Heartburn and Nausea.
- Zulfa Nurfitri Ramadhani et al.; (2020); The Safety of Herbal Used for Health Complaints during Pregnancy – A Systematic Review.
- Spicing Up Your Life during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Are Spices and Herbs Ok?
- Herbs and Pregnancy.
- Ruwani Dissanayake et al.; (2016); The Length Polymorphism of the Locus psbA-trnH is Idyllic to Detect the Adulterations of Black Pepper with Papaya Seeds and Chili.
- Nutrition recommendations for pregnant women and food safety tips.