Pepper, the King of Spice

Pepper is so versatile and it is so widely used in all recipes. We can hardly live without pepper in our kitchen. In most days, we need pepper for our steaks, salads, seasoning, rubs, etc. It’s as if Mother Nature packed her feisty nature into these tiny beads and despite it’s spiciness, it adds so much flavor and character to our food. Let’s put it this way…if you are using really good and fresh ingredients, you only need pepper.

 

Known as the “King of Spice”, black pepper is incredibly popular in the use of all cuisines since ancient times. The peppercorn plant is native to tropical evergreen rain forest of South Indian state, Kerala, from where it spread to the rest of the world.

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The color of peppercorns found in the markets are nothing but the same pepper fruit, picked from the same plant at different stages of maturity and subjected to different methods of processing. For black peppercorns, the berries are picked before full maturity and turn dark when dried. Green peppercorns are picked while the berries are still unripe and green; whereas white peppercorn are soaked in brine when the berry is completely ripe in order to remove its dark, outer skin, exposing its inner white-color pepper seed.

Here are 5 healthy reasons why we love Pepper:

  1. 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 and anti-flatulent properties.
  2. 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, an essential oil found in pepper, can increase absorption of selenium, B-complex vitamins, beta-carotene, as well as other nutrients from the food.
  3. 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.
  4. They are also an excellent source of many vital B-complex groups of vitamins such as Pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamin and niacin.
  5. 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.

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