White Pepper – Benefits, Side effects, Uses and more

Parul Dube

December 21, 2021

Pepper, especially black pepper, is indeed a kitchen staple. The peppery flavour is enough to add zing to our food. Pepper is an essential spice that can enhance the taste of any cuisine. But did you know there is another kind of pepper? White pepper is the berry of the Piper nigrum plant. The main distinction between the two is in the processing.

White pepper offers an array of health benefits and culinary uses. Are you looking for spice with lesser flavour notes? Then, white pepper is a must-have. The benefits of white pepper are sure to intrigue you. So do not put off getting your hands on this miracle spice. White pepper will undoubtedly benefit you in a variety of ways. And we are here to give you all you need to know about it!

What is White Pepper?

White pepper comes from black pepper. Black pepper is known as the “King of Spices.” And this King of spices comes with another excellent culinary companion. That is white pepper. As the name rightfully suggests, white pepper comes in white and grey hues. They are similar in shape to black pepper.

White pepper is scientifically known as Piper Nigrum and comes from the Piperaceae family. White pepper brilliantly complements the flavour of any recipe. So, if you are a fan of black pepper, white pepper will be the perfect addition to your spice cabinet. 

The process of obtaining white pepper

White pepper often undergoes chemical, mechanical, and biological processes. 

White pepper comes entirely from a pepper plant seed. The primary step in processing is peeling the black skin. This process is called retting. The next step is steeping the perfectly ripe berries in water for a week. It will make the pepper’s flesh soften, and the cover disintegrates. 

Rubbing then separates the outer pepper from the seed, leaving only the seeds to dry. And there you have it, white pepper!

How does white pepper taste?

Opinions vary on whether white pepper is hotter or milder than black pepper. Nevertheless, white pepper has a fiery taste on the palate. White pepper, according to some, has a less nuanced flavour than black pepper. 

White pepper can have an earthy or a grassy flavour. It may depend on the processing employed and handling after manufacturing. 

White Pepper Vs. Black Pepper: Difference between white pepper and black pepper

White and black peppers originate from the same plant. The difference between the two peppers is in their processing. The exterior (black) cover is still intact in the black pepper. White pepper, on the other hand, lacks this layer. It gives both their distinct identities.

But this is not all! These two peppers also vary in their tastes. For example, white pepper has a different taste and a higher heat element than black pepper.

1. Flavour

White pepper is different from black pepper as it lacks specific components found in the outer coat. 

Unlike black pepper, white pepper has a hotter flavour. But white pepper has fewer flavour notes since the cover is absent. As a result, it makes white pepper less pungent. White pepper is renowned for its intense punch and is used to season marinades, soups, stir-fries, and chicken. 

2. Shelf-life

When stored in an airtight container, black peppercorn can last a year. The ground form, on the other contrary, loses its natural taste after a few months.

The flavour of White pepper fades notably faster than black pepper. So it is since white pepper does not have its outer cover. 

3. White pepper for lighter recipes

The difference between black pepper and white pepper is in appearance. If you are cooking a vibrant recipe, you may add black pepper. Black pepper complements the rich taste of the dish.

Recipes that call for earthy flavour work well with white pepper. This quality comes in handy while cooking. In addition, white pepper can help keep the dish’s appeal thanks to its subtle flavouring.

Health Benefits of White Pepper

Health Benefits of White Pepper

1. Packed with antioxidants 

Antioxidants are molecules that help the body combat free radicals. But, unfortunately, high levels of free radicals can damage your body. A variety of diseases stems from free radical damage. Some are heart diseases, diabetes and even obesity. 

A study found that white pepper has higher antioxidants than black pepper. It means that white pepper has a higher capability to combat free- radicals.

2. Anti-inflammatory properties

Inflammation can be beneficial or detrimental. Short-term inflammation is a normal response of our body to disease. On the other hand, chronic inflammation can harm your health. It may even put you at risk of some diseases.  

White pepper contains piperine. As per studies, piperine has anti-inflammatory effects. Thus, it enables white pepper to reduce inflammation. In addition, white pepper may effectively treat muscular cramps caused by stretching muscles.

3. Prevents gas

White pepper helps to reduce flatulence (gas). Piperine is the component of pepper that is beneficial in reducing gas. In addition, it stimulates hydrochloric acid (Gastric acid) production in the stomach. This aids digestion and facilitates the smooth working of the intestines.

4. Better digestion 

White pepper may help the digestive system by boosting gastric acid production. This acid is essential for digestion. Additionally, white pepper contains fibre. Fibre helps to increase muscle movement of the intestines. Therefore, it will facilitate better digestion. 

5. Beneficial for anorexia patients

White pepper is known to improve digestion and enhance appetite. Hence, white pepper may help with anorexia by increasing hunger. Therefore, incorporating this pepper into your diet may help with anorexia symptoms.

6. May prevent cancer

You may prevent cancer by consuming white pepper. White pepper stops free radicals from forming inside the body. White pepper also contains capsaicin. As a result, it may prevent prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is a dangerous disease that affects many men worldwide. White pepper is beneficial to improve prostate health when consumed regularly.

Moreover, white pepper also helps in keeping the digestive system healthy. Hence, it may also prevent colon cancer.

7. Reduces blood pressure

White pepper is a good source of flavonoids, vitamin A, and vitamin C. These aid in lowering high blood pressure. Thus, white pepper may help manage blood pressure.

8. Heart-friendly

White pepper is anti-inflammatory and may lower blood pressure. It makes it heart-friendly.

Thanks to its benefits in lowering blood pressure, white pepper regulate blood flow. It may result in the prevention of heart attacks. Keeping blood pressure under control reduces the odds of having a stroke. The elderly may benefit by including white pepper in their diet.

9. Prevents headaches

White pepper contains a compound called capsaicin. This substance benefits in reducing headaches. 

Capsaicin works by dilating (relaxing) the blood vessels. It is due to the effect on neurons. Capsaicin helps in better blood flow. It is how white pepper may treat/ prevent headaches. 

10. Helps manage arthritis

White pepper is a well-known superfood for relieving joint and spinal pain. The benefit comes from the presence of piperine. As per studies, piperine has antinociceptive and antiarthritic effects. Thus, it may ease the agony of arthritis and gout attacks. Capsaicin found in pepper may also play a role in this. 

White pepper may prove to be especially beneficial for the elderly. White pepper also promotes overall muscular development. In addition, it will enhance mobility and aids in the avoidance of muscular cramps.

11. Helps with colds and respiratory diseases 

White pepper may treat respiratory diseases that build mucus. In addition, white pepper may reduce lung congestion. This benefit comes in handy during the winter seasons. White pepper decongest and clears the nasal passages. Meaning, it can help prevent/cure cough and cold.

12. Anti-microbial

An anti-microbial is a substance that kills or prevents the growth of bacteria. A study has found that white pepper has excellent anti-microbial properties. In addition, it shows that white pepper may also work as an insecticide.

13. Improves brain functions

White pepper may benefit in the improvement of cognitive brain functions. Moreover, it may also help in the prevention of brain cell degeneration. However, further studies are needed to determine the effect of white pepper on the human brain.

14. Increases energy 

White pepper promotes energy synthesis in mitochondria. It is a cell component that is responsible for energy production. White pepper is also a source of manganese. This mineral is essential for many enzymes in mitochondria for energy production.

Using White Pepper in Cooking

You should add white pepper at the end of cooking. It is because overheating might result in a bitter flavour. Also, you may prefer white pepper over black pepper for the aesthetic of the recipe (in creamed soups, whipped potatoes, and chowders).

Generally, white pepper is an ingredient in light-coloured recipes. It is great to preserve the colour of any light dishes. In addition, white pepper is an aromatic spice. A generous amount of white pepper in any cuisine will up its aroma quotient.

Here are some of the ways you can use this super spice:

  • You can sprinkle white pepper powder on top of the eggs.
  • White pepper goes well with a variety of cheeses.  
  • It works perfectly with any salad. You can add ground white pepper to your favourite salad with almonds and walnuts. It will add a crunch to the peppery recipe.
  • Boost the flavour of any soup with white pepper powder.
  • Marinate your flesh foods in it. For example, you can marinate meats, fish, chicken in whole/ ground white pepper.
  • Add it to sandwiches and balsamic tomatoes. It adds great texture and flavour.
  • Is the plain traditional oats getting boring? Make savoury oats. Add white pepper to it and you will have your new favourite breakfast.
  • White pepper goes perfectly with Italian cuisines. Add it to your pasta, sauces and soups.
  • You can add them to savoury bakery products. 
  • Sprinkle ground white pepper powder to your sabzis and curries.
  • Add whole white pepper while making biryani or vegetable pulao.
  • You can add whole/ ground white pepper to your daily detox tea.
  • Add it to your masala chai mix.

Substituting white pepper with black pepper

Substituting white pepper with black pepper

You can substitute white pepper with black for a modest amount. But when using large sums, it is not advised to swap the two. It is because the two peppers have unique flavours. It will make the difference more evident. Additionally, you may add white pepper is in a light/ white recipe for its colour. Here, the substitution with black pepper will be apparent.

Side effects:

1. When consumed in food: White pepper is generally safe to consume orally (in recipes).

2. When consumed as medication: When used professionally as medication, white pepper is potentially safe. People with respiratory diseases may use piperine may be as a nasal spray. It may produce a high heart rate, runny nose, sneezing, headache and coughing.


1. An allergy: Allergy from white pepper is rare. However, there have been cases of white pepper allergy. It may cause itching, nausea, swelling, or headache if you have an allergy.

2. During pregnancy: When consumed in normal culinary proportions, white pepper is likely safe. However, there is insufficient credible data to determine if consuming white pepper as a medication is safe. Furthermore, applying white pepper oil to the skin might be unsafe when pregnant. Hence, to be on the safe side, limit its intake. 

3. During breastfeeding: When consumed in normal culinary proportions, white pepper is likely safe. However, there is insufficient data to say whether using white pepper as medicine while breastfeeding is safe. Therefore, consume it with caution. 

4. Children: White pepper is safe for children in moderate quantities. But it is likely unsafe when eaten in massive amounts. There have been reports of children being affected.

5. In bleeding conditions: Piperine in white pepper may reduce blood clotting. Therefore, taking white pepper in large amounts may increase the risk of bleeding.


Keep white pepper in a firmly sealed container away from light. Peppercorns last longer than ground white pepper. Ground pepper loses flavour after roughly three months. However, it will not deteriorate and is safe to use. Although, you may want more to achieve the same taste in your meal. As a result, it is best to get ground white pepper in smaller quantities.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is the difference between white pepper and black pepper?

A. The difference between white and black pepper is the processing. Black pepper has the outer cover intact. On the contrary, white pepper does not have an outer covering. 

Q. Why is white pepper so bad?

A. It offers multiple health benefits. It is heart-friendly and anti-inflammatory. In addition, it may lower blood pressure. Therefore, white pepper is not generally harmful.

Q. What is white pepper good for?

A. White pepper is good for the heart, lowering blood pressure, bloating, digestive health and many more.

Q. What is a good substitute for white pepper?

A. Black pepper, chilli and green pepper can all be used instead for white pepper.

Q. When should you use white pepper?

A. You can use it anytime. However, it is best to cure gas, cold, cough and digestive issues.

Q. Is white pepper better than black?

A. Both peppers come with an array of health benefits. However, white pepper is suitable for a subtle dish and milder palate. On the other hand, black pepper is bolder.

Q. Can I use regular pepper instead of white pepper?

A. Yes, you can use regular pepper instead of white pepper. However, white pepper is a good option if cooking white/ light-coloured recipes.

Q. What is white pepper powder used for?

A. White pepper powder is generally used for light and earthy recipes. It works great with mashed potatoes, soups, salads, sabzis and sauces.

Q. Is it bad to eat a lot of white pepper?

A. It is bad for children to eat a lot of white pepper. For adults, regular amounts used in food preparation is safe to consume. However, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding lot of white pepper may be unsafe. 

Q. What vitamins are in white pepper?

A. White pepper contains vitamin C, A, B1, B2, B3 and vitamin B6.

Q. Is white pepper good for the eyes?

A. White pepper may help with itchy eyes. However, there are limited studies to confirm this claim.

Q. Is white pepper good for diabetes?

A. White pepper is an anti-inflammatory. Hence, it may be beneficial for diabetes.

Q. Is pepper good for hair?

A. Pepper may stimulate hair growth but, research evidence is needed.

About the Author

Parul holds a Masters of Medical Science in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and has worked across the globe from the U.K to New Zealand (NZ) gaining her License with the Health Professionals Council (HPC, UK) and the NZ Nutrition Council. From being a Gold medalist in Clinical Nutrition to being awarded an internship with World Health Organisation (WHO, Cairo, Egypt) and Contracts with CDC Parul has had a wide spectrum of work experiences. She is very passionate about Nutrition and Fitness and holds strong to her guiding mantras ‘ Move more’ and ‘Eat Food that your grandmother can recognize’!

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2 responses to “White Pepper – Benefits, Side effects, Uses and more”

  1. As I understand it, white pepper is lower in oxalates than black pepper for those on a low oxalate diet who are suffering from oxalate toxicity. Calcium oxalate is what most kidney stones are made from and has also been implicated in causing inflammation to arteries that leads to atheroslerosis.

    • Yes, you have got it right. White pepper is preferred for those who have oxalate toxicity as its oxalate content is significantly lower than that of black pepper.

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