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Can the Health Benefits of Black Pepper Prevent Obesity?

A recent investigation into the health benefits of black pepper assesses the potential of piperonal, a component of black pepper to fight obesity.

With the exponential rise in obesity across the globe, researchers are conducting extensive research on limiting the prevalence of the condition worldwide. The prevention of obesity includes a well-balanced diet and regular exercise. Drugs such as Orlistat, fibrates, and sibutramine have also been developed in an effort to prevent obesity. However, the side effects of these drugs are concerning. As a result, researchers have turned to potential alternative treatments from natural products. An Indian study published by Nutrition and Metabolism explores the possible role of piperonal, a constituent of black pepper, in the prevention of obesity.

The researchers carried out the experiment on obese rats who were fed a high-fat diet for 22 weeks. They extracted piperonal from black pepper seeds and added it to the rats’ diets at the 16-week point and onwards. They then measured the outcomes in the form of body weight, body composition, and bone mineral density and composition. The contributors also recorded blood plasma levels of insulin and glucose and evaluated lipid profiles of liver, kidney, and adipocyte hormones. Adipose (fat) and liver tissues were examined as well.

Preventative Effects Maximized

The high-fat diet encouraged increases in body weight, the percentage of fat, and size of fat cells in the rat subjects. Plasma levels of insulin experienced a corresponding significant increase. With the administration of piperonal, the effects of the high-fat diet were controlled to some extent. The results showed that the preventative effects were maximized at a dosage of 40 mg per kg of body weight, administered for a 42-day period. Furthermore, the results showed that piperonal might have helped to regulate some of the genes that are associated with obesity.

Piperonal: A Potential Anti-Obesity Agent

The research recognizes piperonal, a constituent of black pepper, as a potential anti-obesity agent. As obesity becomes increasingly prevalent at a global scale, preventative mechanisms are highly valuable in the healthcare and medical field. Current methods of prevention and treatment include improved lifestyle habits and anti-obesity drugs, which are either not immediately effective or pose other consequences in the form of side effects. As a result, exploiting natural methods such as the health benefits of black pepper may allow for the development of time and cost-efficient preventative methods with fewer side effects for patients.

Written by Shrishti Ahuja, HBSc

Reference:Meriga , B., Parim, B., Chunduri, V. R., Naik, R. R., Nemani, H., Suresh, P., . . . Vvu, S. B. (2017). Antiobesity potential of Piperonal: promising modulation of body composition, lipid profiles and obesogenic marker expression in HFD-induced obese rats. Nutrition & Metabolism, 14(1). doi:10.1186/s12986-017-0228-9

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