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Black Pepper & Chili Pepper

In times gone by when Portugal was the main importer of spices from India, black pepper (Piper nigrum) was one of the most prized spices of the time and was worth its weight in gold. In fact, it served as currency and was therefore called black gold. In addition to this spice, long pepper (Pipper longum) stood out at the time for its medicinal properties and is still part of Ayurvedic medicine today

When Christopher Columbus arrived in America, thinking he was in Indian lands, he found a plant with fruits that resembled those of the long pepper in both flavour and shape. But it turned out to be another mistake made by the discoverer, since this plant isn't even part of the pepper family. Instead, it's a plant from the Solanaceae family of the Capsicum genus, which today we call chilli peppers or red peppers.

Piri-piri, tabasco, jindungo and many other varieties of chilli pepper, although they are not real peppers, we still call them peppers by association.

Despite belonging to different families, chili peppers and black peppers have something in common: both activate the same receptors in the body, leading to a perception of pain. This is why we feel a burning sensation when capsaicin from chili peppers or piperine from black peppers come into contact with our taste buds or skin. However, black pepper causes a milder burning sensation than chili pepper because piperine activates the pain receptors for a shorter duration, whereas capsaicin keeps these receptors active much longer

From a nutritional standpoint, these two plants also have somewhat different effects, but both aid in digestion. While black pepper improves nutrient absorption from food, preventing nutritional deficiencies, chili pepper stimulates metabolism, facilitating digestion and preventing the feeling of discomfort after meals.

The spices we use in cooking, such as black or chili pepper, not only make food more appetizing but are also essential for healthier digestion.

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