Pepper

Description

The black pepper plant is a woody climber and may reach heights of 10 metres (33 feet) by means of its aerial roots. Its broad shiny green leaves are alternately arranged. The small flowers are in dense slender spikes of about 50 blossoms each. The fruits, which are sometimes called peppercorns, are drupes about 5 mm (0.2 inch) in diameter. They become yellowish red at maturity and bear a single seed. Their odour is penetrating and aromatic; the taste is hot, biting, and very pungent. Ground black pepper contains up to 3 percent essential oil that has the aromatic flavour of Capsicum peppers but not the pungency. The characteristic flavour is principally derived from the chemical piperine, though the seeds also contain chavicine, piperidine, and piperettine.

The plant requires a long rainy season, fairly high temperatures, and partial shade for best growth. Propagation is usually by stem cuttings, which are set out near a tree or a pole that will serve as a support. Pepper plants are sometimes interspersed in tea or coffee plantations. They begin bearing in 2 to 5 years and may produce for as long as 40 years.

Health Benefits of Black Pepper

Black pepper aids in weight loss, and treats sinus, asthma, and nasal congestion. It also reduces the risk of cancer, and heart and liver ailments. Let us know the health benefits of black pepper in detail.

Prevents Cancer

Antioxidants in pepper can prevent or repair the damage caused by the free radicals and thus help prevent cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and liver problems. [3] Free radicals are the by-products of cellular metabolism that attack healthy cells and cause their DNA to mutate into cancerous cells. Antioxidants neutralize these harmful compounds and protect your system from many conditions and even symptoms of premature aging like wrinkles, age spots, macular degeneration, and memory loss.

Improves Digestion

Consumption of pepper increases the hydrochloric acid secretion in the stomach, thereby facilitating digestion. Proper digestion is essential to avoid diarrhea, constipation, and colic. [4] Pepper also helps prevent the formation of intestinal gas, and when added to a person’s diet, it can promote sweating and urination. Sweating removes toxins and cleans out the pores of the foreign bodies that may have lodged there and it can also remove excess water. In terms of urination, you can remove uric acid, urea, excess water, and fat, since 4% of urine is fat. [5] A good digestion helps in weight loss, makes your overall body function better, and prevents severe gastrointestinal conditions. As black pepper is carminative in nature, it easily expels the gas out of the body in a healthy downward motion, as upward moving gas can be dangerous because it can strain the upper chest cavity and other vital organs. [6]

Weight Loss

The outer layer of peppercorn assists in the breakdown of fat cells. [7] Therefore, peppery foods are a good way to help you shed weight naturally. When fat cells are broken down into their component parts, they are easily processed by the body and applied to other processes and enzymatic reactions, rather than settling in your body and making you overweight. Ayurvedic tea made with black pepper is one of the teas recommended for weight loss.

Skin Care

Pepper helps to cure vitiligo, which is a skin disease that causes some areas of skin to lose its normal pigmentation and turn white. According to researchers in Oregon Health & Science University, the piperine content of pepper can stimulate the skin to produce melanocytes pigment. [8] Topical treatment of piperine combined with ultraviolet light therapy is much better than other harsher, more chemical-based treatments for vitiligo. It also reduces the chances of skin cancer due to excessive ultraviolet radiation.

Provides Respiratory Relief

In Ayurvedic practices, pepper is added to tonics for treating cold and cough. Pepper also provides relief from sinusitis and nasal congestion. It has an expectorant property that helps break up the mucus and phlegm depositions in the respiratory tract. [9] Its natural irritant quality helps you expel these loosened materials through the act of sneezing or coughing, which eliminates the material from the body and helps you recover from infection or illness that caused the deposition in the first place. Soups and stews made with black pepper and other aromatic spices are often used to treat colds and coughs.

Nutrition Facts

Black pepper is a rich source of minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, and vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B6. This is according to theUSDA National Nutrient Database. Other nutrients include vitamin E, folate, and vitamin K. It has a high content of dietary fiber and has a moderate amount of carbohydrate and protein.

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