In the earlier days, Pepper was used for trade exchange and bartering purposes. This aromatic spice is native to India. Immense health benefits of pepper have made it essential in every household. Scientifically, it is called us Piper Nigrum. Major commercial producers of pepper are in India and Indonesia. Different peppercorns like Black pepper, white pepper and green pepper are from the same berries of pepper plant. The different colors of pepper are obtained because of various stages of development and processing methods. Pepper is available all through the year and also that it has absolutely no calories. One cannot ignore the various health benefits of pepper for the multifold assistance it provides in healing our body and treating various ailments. It also has that special feature which transforms bland food into absolutely aromatic and flavorsome cuisine when used in appropriate quantities.
Nutritive value of pepper
Pepper has a very high nutritional value. It is rich in dietary fiber, high in iron, potassium, calcium and manganese content. It contains good amount of vitamin C, is low in saturated fat, low in sodium and sugar. As a result it soothes bowel movement. If it has to be stated in mathematical figures, around 2 teaspoon of black pepper, which is around 4.20 grams, consists of 12% manganese, 8.6% vitamin K, 6.7% iron, 4.4% fiber, 2.5% copper and 0% calories.
Use of pepper in ayurveda
Pepper is used in the preparation of several ayurvedic medications to assist in treating problems of the respiratory system and gastrointestinal tracts. It is also used as a mood lifter. It is used in various forms and is mixed often with honey, ghee, castor oil or together with other herbs and spices to treat various stomach ailments.
Some Health Benefits of Pepper
From times immemorial people have been benefitting from the various health benefits of pepper. It is one such spice which adds value to the cooked dish and also takes care of your health simultaneously. Given below are some of the health benefits of pepper.
Benefits for Digestion : Pepper helps better digestion by curing ailments like colic, diarrhea, loss of appetite, flatulence, dyspepsia, heartburn, constipation. It keeps the digestive system healthy through the following properties.
By Increasing the secretion of hydrochloric acid – Hydrochloric Acid is essential for the digestion of proteins and other food components in the stomach. Black Pepper stimulates the taste buds in such a way that it signals for the secretion of higher hydrochloric acid and thereby improves digestion. Owing to these benefits, it has earned itself a name, carminative, which means a substance that helps in preventing intestinal gas.
By increases sweating and promoting urination properties – Pepper consists of diaphoretic materials which promote sweating and also diuretic which promotes easy urination without burning sensation.
By demonstrating antioxidant and anti bacterial effects – Being equipped with anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties, it has various benefits against bacterial growth particularly in the intestinal tract.
Benefits for muscular Problems : Pepper helps in curing muscular problems like arthritis and rheumatism. It is excellent for relieving muscle tension and stiffness. It helps in reducing various aches and pains. It is specially considered to cure sports injuries.
Benefits for the Respiratory System : It helps the respiratory system as it is used as an expectorant to stimulate coughing and sneezing to clear congestion in respiratory tract. It is used to treat cough, asthma, chills and catarrh as it acts as an excellent decongestant. It helps in thinning the mucus formed in the lungs during colds and hence, provides relief. Pepper is known to relieve blocked nose and chest congestion.
Benefits for the heart : Pepper improves blood circulation and clears fat cells in the blood vessels, thus easing the work of the heart. Thus you find a healthier and happier heart by adding few pinches of pepper in food. Another benefit of the spice is that it keeps blood pressure in control, thus avoiding problems such as hypertension.
Benefits for nutritional value : Pepper has been known to help the body absorb nutrients in a better manner. When a study was carried out to find out the effect of pepper on the nutritional absorbance in the body, it was found that, nutrients such as beta carotene, vitamin B6, selenium, coenzyme Q10 and vitamin C were absorbed in a much more efficient manner.
Benefits for weight loss : The most attractive of all the health benefits of pepper is that it helps in weight loss. The outer layer of the peppercorn stimulates the breakdown of fat cells as a result you can look slimmer than ever. Simultaneously it gives you energy to burn the fat as well.
Benefits against cancer : Being rich in antioxidants, pepper is very effective in curbing free radicals in the body and preventing cancer. Pepper has an enzyme called peperine, which is effective in preventing breast cancer. Pepper also helps in detoxifying the body, thus lending greater protection against all types of cancer.
Benefits for the skin : Since pepper is a very good detoxifying agent, pepper helps in keeping the skin clear and glowing. A pinch of roughly crushed pepper can be mixed with a tea spoon of sugar and massage oil and can be used as a skin exfoliating agent. It removes dirt and leaves the skin glowing.
Others health benefits
Pepper is used as part of aromatherapy to cure nasal blockage, cold, sinusitis and influenza. Pepper can be taken in steam inhalation, or combined with eucalyptus or used along with marjoram. To cure oral cavities, hoarseness in voice, oral abscesses, tooth decay and toothaches. Pepper also helps in curing psycho emotional disorders like mild depression, psychological confusion, stress, nervous tension and mood swings. Lastly, various other ailments like epilepsy, diabetes, hives, hernia, , hemorrhoids, liver problems and intestinal worms can be treated with pepper.
Thus pepper has been in good demand from times immemorial across various nations. The Chinese in particular use this pungent spice to treat food poisoning, nausea and sometimes stomach chills too.
Perfect method of usage, storage and selection of pepper
Pepper is used in different forms like ground pepper, coarse pepper, whole pepper and cracked pepper. Whole pepper is preferable because it holds its freshness in total and also often ground pepper is mixed with other spices. Pepper is to be stored in a cool dry place in a sealed container for longer durability. Ground pepper starts losing its flavor very soon so if you are not going to use it regularly it is advisable you store the whole peppers and grind it as and when you need it. An important tip in buying pepper is that you should always choose the organic peppers over the others as they will not be irradiated. Irradiated peppers have reduced vitamin C content.
Precautions with Pepper
Pepper is considered the king of spices, however you have to exercise caution in using the same on certain occasions like when a person has had abdominal surgery or ulcers as pepper contains small amount of safrole, which is a mildly carcinogenic compound and causes irritating effect on the intestines. Black pepper essential oil, diluted with carrier oil, when used in small quantities, stimulates heart and kidney however overuse of the same can cause irritation and result in kidney damage. It is advisable to take professional help while using such essential oils for complete health benefits of pepper.
Be it for your skin, be it for your stomach, be it for your brain or be it for your throat, it is high time you understood the health benefits of pepper. It undisputedly seems to be the cure for more than one ailment.