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Black pepper, known as black gold comes from the Sanskrit word pippali. It is a sought-after spice from early times due to its ability to flavor foods, act as a preservative, and adds intensity to a dish. Piper nigrum is indigenous to the tropical forests of the Malabar Coast in southwest India, around the regions of Karnataka, Goa and Kerala.
The dried unripe fruit is the spice - the peppercorn - of the trailing vine plant. The spice acquires diverse coloration subject to the time of harvest, though Black is most common. To get black pepper, you single out almost-ripe peppercorns and leave them to dry until they turn black.
Black pepper was a prized article of trade in ancient Greece and Rome, and attained even greater recognition during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
Presently, Vietnam produces about 39% of the world's black pepper. Indonesia produces about 15%, and India and Brazil each produce about 10%.
Black pepper offers a host of health benefits in addition to its flavor-enhancing properties.
Black Pepper: Nutrition
This pungent spice contains a variety of active compounds, specifically oleoresins and alkaloids like piperine and chavicine. It also comprises antioxidants; flavonoids, essential oil, and other phenolic compounds that help protect cells and improve digestive health.
Black pepper is also a source of the following vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin A
- Thiamine (B1)
- Riboflavin (B2)
- Pantothenic Acid (B5)
- Vitamin B6
Black pepper is a good source of manganese, a mineral that can help with bone health, wound healing, and metabolism. In fact, one teaspoon of black pepper offers 16 % of the daily recommended intake (DRI) of manganese and 6% of the DRI of vitamin K.
Nutrients per Serving
One teaspoon of black pepper contains:
- Calories: 6
- Protein: 0 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbohydrates: 1 gram
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Sugar: 0 gram
- Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
- Sodium: 0 milligrams
Black Pepper: Health Benefits
More than just a food flavor enhancer, black pepper offers health benefits thanks to its bioactive compounds, with piperine being the most important. Piperine is a natural alkaloid that gives black pepper its pungent taste. It is also the main component that gives black pepper its health-boosting qualities.
Piperine is considered a type of antioxidant that helps to lower the risk of chronic illnesses like atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and neurological conditions.
This compound has a positive effect on nutrient bioavailability as well. When black pepper is added to a meal it leads to enhanced absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream.
Digestion and Intestinal Health
Black pepper stimulates hydrochloric acid in the stomach for improved digestion and absorption of the foods eaten. It has carminative properties that lessen discomfort and gas buildup in the intestines.
A strong immune system is important for helping you avoid illness, and black pepper can help here as well. Its active compounds have a role in boosting white blood cells, which your body uses to fight off invading bacteria and viruses.
Things to Watch Out For
Black pepper, primarily through its active ingredient piperine, can interact with certain medications. It can have minor to moderate interactions that affect how your body absorbs prescription medications.
How to Use Black Pepper
Whenever possible, grind your own pepper from peppercorns when preparing a meal. Eating freshly ground black pepper gives you more health benefits than eating pre-ground black pepper. Using fresh peppercorn also ensures that you're eating pure black pepper, not pepper mixed with other additives.
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Following is the recipe for Mushroom Pepper Fry, a delicious and low-calorie food item.
Recipe for Mushroom Pepper Fry
- Firstly take 1 tablespoon black peppers + 1 teaspoon fennel seeds in a dry grinder or a coffee grinder. If you are not going to add capsicum in the recipe, then reduce the black pepper to half tablespoon and fennel seeds to half teaspoon.
- Grind to a coarse powder. Keep aside. Also slice 1 large onion, 200 grams white button mushrooms, 1 medium to large capsicum and 1 green chili.
- Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a pan. Add half teaspoon mustard seeds and let them crackle.
- After the mustard seeds crackle, then add 1 cup thinly sliced onions.
- Mix the onions very well and sauté on a low to medium flame.
- For quick cooking of the onions, you can add a pinch of salt while sauteing them. saute till they start to turn light golden.
- Then, add half teaspoon ginger-garlic paste.
- Stir and sauté till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.
- Now add the sliced mushrooms.
- Mix very well and sauté them on a medium flame.
- First the mushrooms will release a lot of water.
- Continue to sauté till all the water has evaporated.
- Then add 1 cup thinly sliced bell peppers
- Mix well
- Sauté the capsicum slices till they are half cooked. They should have some crunch in them.
- Then add 1 green chili, sliced or chopped and 2 teaspoons chopped curry leaves. mix well.
- Next add the coarsely powdered black pepper and fennel seeds.
- Next add half teaspoon coriander powder, half teaspoon cumin powder and a pinch of turmeric powder.
- Mix all the spices very well with the mushroom and capsicum mixture.
- Season with salt.
- Mix again and then switch off the flame. Check the taste and add more salt if required.
- Add 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves. Stir.
- Serve mushroom pepper fry hot with chapattis or rotis.
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