NOTE: The next new Mouse Print* story will be published on Monday, January 6, 2014 (our trusty mouse needs time off to hunt for his annual supply of dairy-free cheese substitute since unfortunately he is lactose intolerant).
McCormick ran a series of commercials touting the health benefits of its spices. (We reported on their health claims for cinnamon a while back here.)
One commercial proclaims, using words to the effect that “sprinkling black pepper on scambled eggs is an important source of antioxidants”.
Looking on their website, the claim is even made more specific:
Wow, more antioxidants than a 1/2 cup serving of watermelon. Not so fast.
According to the FDA, watermelon is not one of those fruits particularly dense with vitamin C (a key antioxidant).
A serving size is defined as two cups, and contains 25% of the daily requirement of vitamin C. If you wanted to get the equivalent boost of vitamin C from black pepper, you would have to sprinkle about a full teaspoon of pepper on your eggs. Ha choooooo. The recommended 1/4 teaspoon that McCormick suggests that you sprinkle on eggs will only provide you with 6.25% of your daily requirement of vitamin C according to them. Hardly something to boast about as a boost of antioxidants. As noted in the comments (thanks, Leeann), there are other antioxidants in watermelon too, but they are in very small amounts.
NutritionData.com suggests that even a full teaspoon of black pepper is not particularly nutrient-rich (but not all nutrients are listed on nutrition facts labels).
In an interview with Ad Age, the company explained their advertising campaign:
The goal is to reach “people who maybe weren’t superinvolved cooks … but were still interested in healthy eating,” said Jill Pratt, VP-marketing for consumer products. The company looked at some common meals “and found a way to make them a little bit healthier by amping up the antioxidants in them,” she said.
No matter how you spin it, black pepper is NOT an important source of antioxidants in your diet based on the amount of pepper you might actually use to spice up an individual serving.