The Origins of Black Pepper
Black pepper – a spice so common in most dishes yet so significant that we really cannot miss out on what it brings to our dishes. It is one of those spices that is a prominent member. Black pepper, or, kali mirch has a very important place in history which we will take a look at. Out of all the commodities, pepper was one of the earliest to be used in trade and was considered extremely precious and was also used as currency. Black pepper is used extensively in Indian cuisine and is native to South East Asia, particularly found on the Malabar Coast. It was referred to as ‘black gold’ which denotes the significance this condiment holds. The early Roman Empire was the first to have started the trade of pepper as right after their triumph over Egypt, the Malabar Coast fell in the same route to the Chera dynasty. This resulted in the sending of over 120 ships to India as was marked by Strabo who was a Greek geographer residing in Asia Minor at the time. Returning from India, the route taken was through the Red Sea up to Alexandria from where these cargos would be shipped to Rome and Italy. These routes mark the dominant routes used for the trade of this condiment. The Romans were the ones having an absolute reign over the condiment and considering how precious it was regarded as, the price of pepper in the middle ages was very high.
However, by the end of the early Middle Ages, the prices of pepper were monopolised by the Islamic regime after which, descending into the Mediterranean, it was under the control of strong Italian powers. As the supply of this ingredient increased in these regions, the prices eventually began to deteriorate. A food item once considered a luxury, also used as currency, especially among the wealthy, then became a daily used seasoning even for the average masses.
The Health Benefits of Black Pepper
Apart from just being an everyday seasoning, black pepper benefits are many that you might be amazed by. It is not just a part of the essential ingredient group of the culinary world, it harbours some uses that you might want to consider not waving this spice off the list. Let's take a look at some of the black pepper uses and benefits.
Some of these can also be incorporated with water so black pepper with hot water benefits are the same if they are not consumed in any of your meals.
1] Rich in antioxidants
Black Pepper is rich in a compound called piperine that seems to possess a large number of antioxidants which helps in preventing damage caused by free radicals - molecules that can potentially damage your cells. These free radicals, produced in excess, can cause health issues related to your heart and some types of cancers.
2] Improves Your Digestion
It can help you with good digestion and when it is eaten raw, promotes the promotion of hydrochloric acid that aids in cleansing your intestines and can alleviate gastrointestinal issues to happen. It also has been shown in studies that black pepper helps in increasing the number of good bacteria in your gut and these bacteria are associated with immune functioning, chronic diseases etc.
3] Good For Weight Loss
Black pepper benefits weight loss highly because it has a high content of phytonutrients that can help in breaking down the excess amount of fat and also aids in boosting your body's metabolism.
4] Prevents Cancer
The piperine compound mentioned earlier plays a role again in preventing certain types of cancers and is doubled in power if mixed with turmeric (Haldi). This spice has Vitamins A and C as well as antioxidants that demolish the free radicals responsible for cancer and other diseases.
5] Helps With Skin Related Issues
Black Pepper works well with providing protection from skin pigmentation and aids in keeping your natural skin colour while preventing issues like wrinkles and dark spots. It also helps in curing Vitiligo - a skin condition that causes the skin to lose its pigmentation and create melanin causing white patches to appear.
6] Helps With Depression
Black pepper has been said to help with depression as the piperine present stimulates the brain into being more active and chewing on it raw can help in changing the mood. It releases mood-inducing chemicals that have calming and soothing properties without causing any side effects medicines to render usually.
7] Is Anti-Inflammatory
Piperine, which is an active compound and plays a role in regulating many of the beneficial functions of black pepper, has anti-inflammatory properties that aid in reducing inflammation. However the studies have majorly been conducted on animals and the extent of its impact on humans is not very clear yet.
Can You Consume Black Pepper Every Day?
Having a moderate amount every day is completely fine. In fact, it should be included in your diet, however, do not exceed more than one teaspoon of this spice. Using it as a seasoning or an ingredient in your food is the best way to incorporate this spice for everyday consumption if you want to avoid encountering the black pepper side effects.
Side Effects of Over-consuming Black Pepper
Black Pepper can be consumed moderately as eating a lot may cause discomfort and can cause an upset stomach. This is because, when eaten in large quantities it may cause burns in your stomach or indigestion. For pregnant women, it might cause irritation as well. That is why it is best to avoid eating this spice in large quantities.
The History of Indian spices has a very diverse background just like the diversity in the cuisines made using each spice. Indian spices are the heart of every Indian dish and with even one missing, the dish can go off. Gather these spices in one place with a masala box so you never miss out on any of these important elements!