Black Pepper – Medicinal Uses, Nutritional Composition and Quality Parameters

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Black Pepper is the king of spices. It is most popular and a widely used spice of the world. It is used to add flavors in food, preserve processed foods and is also well known for its medicinal value. Black Pepper was the first oriental spice which was introduced to the Western world and quickly gained importance amongst the Greeks and Romans. In middle ages it further gained importance in Europe as it was also used to cure common cold and aid digestion. GFN Foods are a major Spice wholesalers and Spice distributors of Black Pepper. This article discusses the components, nutritional composition, medicinal value and other essential aspects of black pepper spice.

Description of Black Pepper Spice

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South Western India, particularly the Malabar Coast is considered to be the home of this important spice. The scientific name of Pepper is Piper, which originated from the Sanskrit term pippali, meaning the long pepper. There are around 1200 well known species of Pepper plants. It grows well in tropical zones like Asia Pacific region, mainly India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, China, Vietnam and Cambodia. Other areas where it grows are South Pacific, Latin America and Africa, in countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Madagascar, etc.

Black Pepper is obtained from mature fruits of Piper Nigrum, an evergreen perennial climber. Living trees or other supports such as concrete or wooden poles are used to support the climber. These supports have a diameter of 1-2 meters and height of 5-6 meters. The roots of pepper are very delicate. 75% of roots are present in an area of 75 to 100 cms radius and depth. The flowers of black pepper are very small and the color is white to pale yellow. The fruits when in growing stage are green in color and slowly change to red on ripening. This species of black pepper naturally self pollinates aided by the presence of water droplets.

Medicinal value of Black Pepper spice

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  • Black Pepper spice is used to cure many diseases:
  • 1. Piperine which is an active ingredient in Black Pepper spice has a pain relieving and fever reducing effect.
  • 2. Piperine also has an anti-inflammatory effect. It is easily absorbed by the skin and is capable of impacting the tissues, nerves and blood vessels.
  • 3. Piperine helps protect seizures and electric shock seizures due to penetrazole.
  • 4. Black pepper spice has anticonvulsive and vasodilatoral properties which effect the nervous system of the body. In Ayurveda, it is used to treat epileptic fits and bring sleep. A compound namely, 1-(3-benzodioxol-5yl)-1-oxo-2-propenyl-piperidide, has powerful antiepileptic properties.
  • 5. Black pepper spice also has effect on sexual organs. It also increases milk production during lactation.
  • 6. Pepper oil is used to warm the skin and help improve blood circulation.
  • 7. Pepper and Peperine has liver protection effect.
  • 8. Pepper leaf oil has atifungal properties.
  • 9. Piperdine is used as a CNS-depressant, insectifuge, spinoconvulsant and urate solvent.

Quality and Components of Black pepper Spice

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Quality of black pepper is determined on the basis of piperine and essential oils content. Piperine contributes to the pungency of black pepper, while volatile oils are responsible for the flavor and aroma. Fine quality black pepper consists of higher quantities of these 2 constituents. Piperine is present in the range of 2.0 to 7.4% whereas essential oil varies in the range of 0.4 to 7.0%.

Piperine is a yellow crystalline based substance. It was discovered by Oersted in 1819. Besides Piperine there are 5 more alkaloids that are responsible for pungency in black pepper. Piperine however is the main component responsible for the pungency. Piperine (C17H19O3N) being a weak base when hydrolised becomes stronger piperinic acid (C17H19O4). The established structure of piperine is peperinic acid piperidide. There are 4 isomers of Piperinic acid, namely Piperine (2 – trans, 4 – trans), Isopiperine (2 – cis, 4 – trans), Isochavicine (2 – trans, 4 – cis) and Chavicine (2 – cis, 4 – cis). Piperine is the most pungent amongst these and is very sensitive to light.

Pepper essential spice oil consists of more than 80 components which combine together and create the unique aroma of black pepper. Below are the most important components:

Monoterpene hydrocarbons and oxygenated compounds: The major components of this group are a-pinene, B-pinene, sabinene and limonene. In addition to Monoterpene hydrocarbons there are about 43 oxygenated monoterpenoid compounds present in pepper essential oil.

Sesquiterpene hydrocarbons and oxygenated compounds: There are about 25 sesquiterpene hydrocarbons present in pepper essential spice oil, the most important being B-caryophyllene. Oxygenated sesquiterpenes are also present in pepper essential oil.

Miscellaneous compounds: Besides the above compounds many more are also present in black pepper spice oil. These include compounds such as eugenol, methyl eugenol, benzaldehyde, trans-anethole, myristicin, safrole, piperonal, and aromatic acids such as benzoic acid, phenyl acetic acid, cinnamic acid, piperonic acid, butyric acid and more.
Phenolic components of black pepper spice. Black Pepper spice also contains a mixture of glycosides of phenolic acids and flavonol glycosides. It also contains sitosterol and cubebin.

Nutritional composition of Black pepper Spice:

According to USDA Agricultural Handbook (8–2, Jan 1977), every 100 grams of Black Pepper contains: 10.510 grams Water, 255.000 Kcal Food energy, 10.950 grams Proteins, 3.263 grams Fat, 64.810 grams Carbohydrates, 4.330 grams Ash, 0.437 grams Calcium, 173.00 mg Phosphorous, 44.00 mg Sodium, 1259.00 mg Potassium, 28.86 mg Iron, 0.109 mg Thiamine, 0.240 mg Riboflavin, 1.142 mg Niacin and 19.00 RE Vitamin A activity.

Black Pepper – Medicinal Uses, Nutritional Composition and Quality Parameters

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