Black pepper nutrition facts
Black Pepper:- Incredibly popular black pepper, often referred as “king of spice”, is a well-known spice since ancient times. The peppercorn plant is native to tropical evergreen rain forest of South Indian state, Kerala, from where it spread to rest of the world. The Pepper fruit, also known as the peppercorn, is actually a berry obtained from pepper plant.
Botanically, peppercorn belongs to the family of Piperaceae of the genus of piper; and known scientifically as Piper nigrum. It is a perennial vine and climber that requires supporting tree or pole to grow in height; thus it has similar growth characteristics that of beetle leaf plant. The pepper plant start producing small round berries after about three to four years of plantation. Technically, the pepper berry is a drupe, measuring about 5 mm in diameter, containing a single large seed at its center.
The color of peppercorns found in the markets are nothing but the same pepper fruit, which picked up from the plant at different stages of maturity and subjected to different methods of processing. In general, the peppercorns were harvested while half-matured and just about to turn red. They are then left to dry under the sun light until they become shrivel and turns black (black peppercorns). Alternatively, green peppercorns are picked while the berries still unripe and green. The white peppercorn got its name when a completely ripe berry soaked in the brine in order to remove its dark, outer skin, exposing inner white-color pepper seed.
Black peppers have a strong pungent flavor that comes to them from volatile-oils, such as piperine. In case of ground peppercorns, these volatile oils may disappear because of evaporation of these compounds if kept open in the air for extended periods.
Cubeb or tailed pepper berries are dried unripe fruits of the Piper cubeba vine that is grown mainly Indonesian rain forest. They appear similar to black peppercorns but have a characteristic stalk which is often interpreted as a “tail.” Cubeb berries have a distinctive flavor rich in monoterpene essential oil, cubebene.
Health benefits of black pepper
- Peppercorns contain an impressive list of plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties. Peppers have been in use since centuries for its anti-inflammatory, carminative, anti-flatulent properties.
- Peppercorns are composed of health benefiting essential oils such as piperine, an amine alkaloid, which gives strong spicy pungent character to the pepper. It also contains numerous monoterpenes hydrocarbons such as sabinene, pinene, terpenene, limonene, mercene, etc., which altogether gives aromatic property to the pepper.
- The above-mentioned active principles in the pepper may increase the gut motility as well as the digestion power by increasing gastro-intestinal enzyme secretions. It has also been found that piperine can increase absorption of selenium, B-complex vitamins, beta-carotene, as well as other nutrients from the food.
- Black peppercorns contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, calcium, zinc, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme,superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for cellular respiration and blood cell production.
- They are also an excellent source of many vital B-complex groups of vitamins such as Pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamin and niacin.
- Peppercorns are a good source of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-C and vitamin-A. They are also rich in flavonoid polyphenolic anti-oxidants like carotenes, cryptoxanthin, zea-xanthin and lycopene. These compounds help the body remove harmful free radicals and help protect from cancers and diseases.
Selection and storage of Black Pepper
Black Peppers are available year around. In the store, buy whole peppercorns instead of pepper powder since, oftentimes, it may contain adulterated spicy powders. The peppercorns should be wholesome, heavy, round and compact.
Peppercorns can be stored at room temperature for many years and can be milled using hand mill as and when required. It can be kept inside the refrigerator for up to a month or so. Powdered pepper should be stored inside the refrigerator in airtight containers.
Medicinal uses of Black Pepper
- Peppers have been used therapeutically in dentistry as an antiseptic for tooth-decay and gum swellings.
- Peppercorns are also being used as traditional medicines in treating flatulence and indigestion, however, there is little or no data to support these claims in modern medicine.
Culinary uses of Black Pepper
Black pepper is one of the most versatile spices used in virtually in all kinds of savoury cooking. In order to keep their fragrance and flavor intact, they are generally ground just before preparing dishes and added at the last minutes in the recipes (since prolonged cooking results in evaporation of essential oils).
- The spice is used liberally in Indian vegetarian and chicken curries and in the Middle-East, in meat and rice dishes.
- They can be used in the preparation of soups, barbecue sauces, pickling and as a main ingredient in variety of curry powders (Indian garam masala powder).
- Although preferred in savoury foods, this spice is also used in tiny quantities in sweet preparations like fruitcakes, breads, pies to add a spicy note.
- In India and Pakistan, black peppercorn powder is mixed with salt, and the mixture is a common item found on the serving table in restaurants. The mixture is used as sprinkle over vegetable/fruit salads, chats, lemonades, in soups, etc. Lassi (churned yogurt) is often flavored with this spice-salt mixture in the Punjab province.
- Cubeb peppers mainly feature in Indonesian curries.
Safety profile of Black Pepper
Consumption of dishes prepared with excessive amounts of black pepper can cause gastrointestinal irritation, and bleeding from the ulcer sites. Therefore, recipes prepared with pepper should be avoided in individuals with stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis, and diverticulitis conditions.
Black peppercorns along with other spices and seasonings are used to marinate chicken, fish, and meat.
- Source :- http://www.nutrition-and-you.com