Peppercorn is originally known as a fruit of black pepper. Belonging to Piperaceae family, peppercorn is scientifically known as Piper nigrum. Black peppers grow in clusters on the pepper plant. Ground peppercorns form pepper, which comes in three varieties such as black pepper, green pepper and white pepper, depending upon the colon difference and processing methods.
Black peppercorns are obtained by drying half-ripe fruits. They are most flavorful among all varieties. Green peppercorns are made from unripe fruits. White peppercorns are made from the seeds only. There are also other varieties such as orange or red peppercorns made from ripe red pepper berries and pink peppercorns, which are soft and fragile berries.
Black pepper is most commonly used worldwide; that’s why, it is referred to as ‘the king of spice’. Peppercorns are used in various dishes, sauces and soups for adding flavor.
Health Benefits of Peppercorns
– Peppercorn is rich with a wide variety of phytochemical compounds that possess disease preventing and health promoting properties. It is a very good source of vitamin K and dietary fiber. It has been used since ancient times for its medicinal properties. Peppercorn has anti-flatulent, anti-inflammatory and carminative properties.
– Peppercorn consists of beneficial essential oils like piperine. This amine alkaloid imparts strong, pungent, spicy flavor to peppercorn. The aromatic property of peppercorn is due to high content of monoterpenes hydrocarbons like pinene, limonene, sabinene, terpenene and mercene.
– All these nutrients in peppercorn enhance gut motility and stimulate the secretion of gastrointestinal enzymes. Piperine found in pepper helps to increase the absorption of beta-carotene, B-complex vitamins, selenium and other nutrients.
– Black peppercorn contains a rich amount minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese and zinc. Potassium is a major component of cells and body fluids, which assists in controlling blood pressure and heart rate. Manganese acts as a co-factor for superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant enzyme. Iron plays an important role in blood cell production and cellular respiration.
– Peppercorn stimulates taste buds to enhance the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. This, in turn, improves digestive function. Peppercorn can be used to treat indigestion, constipation and diarrhea.
– Due to its carminative properties, peppercorn helps to prevent formation of intestinal gas (flatulence). In addition, it has diuretic (increasing urination) and diaphoretic (promoting sweating) properties.
– Peppercorn has rich amount of vitamin B-complex such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and pyridoxine. It also contains anti-oxidant vitamins like vitamin C and A. It is also loaded with flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants such as carotenes, lycopene, zea-xanthin and cryptoxanthin. These compounds help to remove harmful free radicals and protect the body from cancers and other diseases.
– Due to its antibacterial properties, peppercorn can be an effective home remedy to treat respiratory conditions like cough, cold and flu. Spicy flavor of pepper helps to relieve congestion and get rid of sinusitis.
– The outer layer of peppercorn contains certain substances that can boost fat metabolism. Therefore, peppercorn can be used as a good remedy for weight loss.
– Black pepper is also effective to treat skin conditions. Piperine, an active ingredient in peppercorn, is found to be helpful to treat vitiligo. It also reduces the risk of skin cancer caused by UV radiation.
– Peppercorn is found to be helpful to combat dental problems. It helps to prevent tooth decay and provides a quick relief from toothache.
Consumption of excess amount of peppercorn can lead to gastrointestinal irritation and bleeding from the ulcer sites. Therefore, foods prepared using peppercorn should be avoided by the people with stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis.
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