Incredibly popular black pepper, often referred as “king of spice” is a well-known spice since ancient times. The peppercorn plant is native to tropical evergreen rain forest of South Indian state, Kerala, from where it spreads to rest of the world. The Pepper fruit, also known as the peppercorn, is actually a berry obtained from this plant.
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 ancient times for its anti-inflammatory, carminative, anti-flatulent properties.
Peppercorns are composed of health benefiting essential oils such as piperine, an amine alkaloid, which gives strong spicy pungent character to the pepper. It also contains numerous monoterpenes hydrocarbons such as sabinene, pinene, terpenene, limonene, mercene, etc., which gives aromatic property to the pepper.
The above-mentioned active principles in the 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 can increase absorption of selenium, B-complex vitamins, beta-carotene, as well as other nutrients from the food.
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.
They are also an excellent source of many vital B-complex groups of vitamins such as Pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamin and niacin.
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.