Black Pepper - Nutritional Properties, Medicinal Benefits and stories of King of Spices

Spices for Kings - Good for Cold, Digestion and Anti-Inflammatory
By : Purple Kaddu Posted on :

The next time you play ‘truth and dare’ with your friends, and you don’t know what dare to give your friend, try this! Ask him to eat a few black peppercorns. One bite of the peppercorn and his tongue will shoot to the brain - fire! Few more bites and his eyes will be watering, nose red and mouth burning. He may also begin to sweat. Can you think of a more hilarious dare? I bet you can’t. 

Black pepper just looks tiny, but is very mighty. It’s like ‘chhota packet bada dhamaka’. Black peppers have a strong spicy pungent flavor, thanks to the volatile oil-piperine present in them.

The spice being the fruit, is the dried, unripe berry. The flowers give way to berries which are first green then become red fruits and finally become the familiar black spice.

Black pepper, belonging to the Piperaceae family is native to South India but used globally, as a spice and medicine too. But, before we get to those details, lets have a good laugh reading the stories that follow.

Black pepper stories

Unlike now, black pepper was highly valued in the past. You could pay your rent in terms of pepper, call yourself rich if you had pounds of pepper, run out of the jail by just giving pepper as a bribe! It sounds incredible, but that did happen ages ago.

Weddings are an occassion where you can show-off. Guess what the Kings of olden times did? They would decorate dinner tables with pounds of pepper. In Italy, pasta dishes served at banquets were sprinkled with loads of pepper and cinnamon as a sign of prosperity. I wonder who could eat such heavily spiced dishes?

When King Alaric had captured Rome, he demanded an eye-popping price for sparing the city, which besides garments, gold and silver, also included 3000 kilograms of pepper.

If you were a slave in France, a pound of pepper could save you. German rich boys had a nickname - ‘pepper sacks’. So, pepper actually did equate to being rich.

If a soldier wins a war now, he gets awarded with medals and money. Back then, Genoa soldiers were awarded with 1 kg pepper each. These stories are indeed fascinating!

Leaving behind the good olden days of ‘Pepper stories’, lets get to know some facts.

Black pepper is associated with protection and exorcism. If you suspect any evil eye attacks on you, mix salt and pepper and sprinkle in a circle around your land to remove any such bad influences.

Black pepper is known to have an emotional connect too. It releases negative energies and provides courage to overcome problems.

Some historical findings also suggest the use of black pepper for mummification.

Medicinal Properties

Traditionally used to treat indigestion and flatulence, recent studies also suggest the same. Black pepper may increase the gut motility as well as the digestion power by increasing gastro-intestinal enzyme secretions esp. hydrochloric acid secretion. Hydrochloric acid is necessary for the digestion of proteins and other food components in the stomach.

Black pepper is also used as a remedy for cold, cough and sore throat. You could grind some pepper on soups or have it with warm water. Black pepper mixed with ghee was also used to heal skin rashes.

Research also suggests the use of black pepper as an anti-inflammatory agent. It helps reduce pain and swelling. Black pepper contains vitamin A which are natural anti-oxidants, protecting you from hazards of stress and pollution. Kali miri,common name for black pepper has shown to inhibit growth of cancerous tumors, thus proving to be cancer-protective.

It is also reported that those who inhale black pepper have fewer cravings for cigarettes. If you are an addict and trying to quit, may be you could try for yourself!

Nutritional properties

The NIN analysis reports that 10g black pepper (approx 2 1/2 tsp) gives you 30kcal, 5gm carbohydrates, 1 gm protein and negligible fat. It also contains good amount of calcium and phosphorus, which play a role in metabolic reactions.

Why do we use pepper? In a word, for pleasure. It imparts a spicy pungent taste to your dishes.And the best part about it - you just need to grind it. Grind it on your pastas, salad dressings, sandwich fillings or to add a sizzle to the routine bread-butter.

Black pepper tastes and smells best when you freshly grind it right before eating. Part of the flavor, aroma, and health benefits of this spice are due to volatile pepper oil, so fresh grinding becomes a must.

And there’s more...

Piperine, active component in black pepper also enhances absorption of other food and spice components. For Example, Curcumin in turmeric is better bio-available if had with pepper. It seems as if the spices help each other in performing their role. That’s such a lovely lesson these spices just taught us. We as humans must also help people around us. Its okay to do good deeds too.

Spice, Calcium, Phosphorus, Indigestion, Remedy for Cold, Anti Inflammatory, Indian Spice