Thursday, 21 May 2020 12:17

Pepper - The Masterpiece of Spices

Pepper ‘Piper nigrum’ which belongs to family Piperaceae commonly called as the "King of Spices" is one of the most popular spice used in all over the world in making food dishes. Sri Lankan Pepper is known as the world’s best pepper when comparing to its quality and chemical features.

In Sri Lanka, pepper mainly cultivated in Low Country, Mid country Wet and Intermediate agro-climatic zones. Also the entire extent is about 30,000ha and the major districts which cultivate pepper are Matale, Kandy, Kegalle, Badulla, Ratnapura, Monaragala, Nuwara Eliya and Kurunegala. It is often grown either as a mono crop or as a mixed crop within the coconut and tea plantations using live and dead standards as support. Pepper is a perfect crop for home gardens where it is often trained on the prevailing tree species also. Although the origin of black pepper is believed to be Malabar Coast of India, Sri Lanka too is a home to variety of wild pepper types. When considering the large genetic variability of “Piper nigrum L” found in Sri Lanka and therefore the presence of pepper wild relatives, it's believed that Sri Lanka also an area which originated pepper. Some commercial black pepper varieties have been introduced to Sri Lankan farmers by Department of Export Agriculture since the existence of economic black pepper trade rising with the demand in many countries. High yielding pepper line called “Panniyur-1” from India and “Kuchin” from Malaysia was introduced within the 1970s but MB21 and GK 49 are high yielding and superior quality local selections which were popular among black pepper cultivators. At Harvesting correct stage of maturity is important to supply top quality peppercorns. Harvesting starts when one or two of the berries on the spike begin to show orange to red color and the berries are hard to the touch. The pungency of peppercorns increases throughout its maturity.

In Sri Lanka Black Pepper widely used as a "hot" cooking spice and seasoning. In Europe as well as Sri Lanka Black Pepper has been using as a food preservative and for adding heat and flavour to meats. Extracts of black pepper (Oleoresin and essential oil) are also extracted from whole berries, and have been used as both spice and flavoring agents within the food industry, Black pepper has become a kitchen staple in households worldwide with its subtle heat and bold flavor, it’s versatile and may enhance almost any savory dish. A dash of ground black pepper are often a tasty seasoning for cooked vegetables, pasta dishes, meat, fish, poultry, and lots of more. It also pairs well with other healthful seasonings, including turmeric, cardamom, cumin, garlic, and lemon peel. For an additional kick and a touch crunch, try coating tofu, fish, chicken, and other proteins with coarsely ground peppercorns and extra seasonings. This versatile flavor-enhancer is worth adding to daily cooking routine, as its bold flavor may be a welcome addition to almost any dish. Additionally it has industrial uses in perfumery and pharmaceutical industries.

Sri Lankan black pepper has higher Piperine content which conduces to fetch a premium price in international spice trade. Sri Lankan pepper, like other spices from the island, is well-known for its superior inherent properties. For instance, Sri Lankan pepper has higher Piperine content as above mentioned, which provides it a superior quality and pungency. Normally Piperine content in Sri Lankan black pepper is 2 to 6 times above in other countries. Also Black pepper is a good source of manganese and vitamin K, copper and dietary fiber, and a source of iron, chromium and calcium

Medicinal Properties of Pepper

Black pepper mainly rich in antioxidants which plays a main role as free radical scavengers. Free radicals are unstable molecules which will damage body cells. Those excess radical damage can cause major health problems. for instance, it's been linked to inflammation, premature aging, heart disease, and certain cancers. In order that as Black pepper rich in a plant compound Piperine, which have potent antioxidant properties may help prevent or delay the damaging effects of radicals and that they act as free radical scavengers then decrease the danger of disorder like cardiovascular diseases and cancers. Also it has anti-inflammatory properties. Means, it's going to effectively fight inflammation against chronic inflammations which may be an underlying factor in many conditions, like arthritis, heart condition, diabetes, and cancer. For example, in studies in rats with arthritis, treatment with Piperine resulted in less joint swelling and fewer blood markers of inflammation but, Piperine suppressed inflammation within the airways caused by asthma and seasonal allergies.

However, the anti-inflammatory effects of black pepper and Piperine haven't yet been studied extensively in people. Piperine has been shown to improve brain function in animal studies. In particular, it's demonstrated potential benefits for symptoms associated with degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Also bioprine suspected as having cancer-fighting properties. Though no human trials are performed, test-tube studies found that Piperine slowed the replication of breast, prostate, and carcinoma cells and induced neoplastic cell death Another test-tube study observed that Piperine from black pepper was the foremost effective at enhancing the efficacy of traditional treatment for triple-negative carcinoma. Piperine has shown promising effects in laboratory studies for reversing multi-drug resistance in cancer cells.

What more, the compounds in black pepper may improve blood glucose control with improvements in insulin sensitivity and should lower cholesterol levels Black pepper extract has been studied for its potential to scale back cholesterol level. Additionally, black pepper and Piperine are believed to spice up the absorption of dietary supplements that have potential cholesterol-lowering effects like turmeric and red yeast rice

There are more, Black pepper may increase the bio-availability of the many nutrients like selenium, beta-carotene, curcumin and vitamins A and C also some beneficial plant compounds, like those found in tea and turmeric. That’s why it's always recommended to feature a pinch of black pepper in turmeric preparation and dishes to raised absorb curcumin. Also it's going to promote gut health. The makeup of your gut bacteria has been linked to immune function, mood, chronic diseases, and more. Preliminary research suggests that black pepper may increase the good bacteria in gut and It also stimulates appetite and helps the assembly of digestive enzymes within the pancreas it also accelerates the intestinal transit. Among the ailments that black pepper was administered to patients who are suffering from diarrhea, constipation, arthritis, insect bites, and pulmonary and cardiovascular troubles. Also it can be often use as pain reliever. Though it's yet to be studied in humans, studies in rodents suggest that the Piperine in black pepper could also be a natural pain reliever too.

Black pepper extract, containing Bioperine has been used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine to treat fevers, digestive disorders, urinary difficulties, rheumatism, neuralgia and boils warming spice consistent with Ayurveda. It is often utilized in combination with other spices, because its component Piperine increases. In C.T.M (Chinese Traditional Medicine) pepper is described as a spice capable of warming the body, wont to dissipate cold and melt phlegm. together with other warming spices like ginger and cinnamon it are often utilized in infusions to fight cold and flu.

Written by :
Ms. R M O Kavindya Bandara,
BSc in Food Science and Nutrition Sp (Reading),
Wayamba University of Sri Lanka.

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Published in Ceylon Spices
Wednesday, 13 November 2019 10:18

Health benefits of Spices to Human Body

Spices have been used for culinary and medicinal purposes for centuries. Spices are usually used in foods and beverages for enhance flavor, aroma and color, but they can also protect from acute and chronic diseases. There are some scientific evidence that spices contain anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and glucose and cholesterol lowering activities. Frequent consumption of spicy foods can reduce the risk of death from cancer and ischemic heart and respiratory system diseases. Sri Lanka is the most famous country to the spices. So Sri Lanka is called as “Land of Spices”. Major export spices are cinnamon, black pepper, clove and nutmeg.

Ceylon cinnamon or true cinnamon (Cinamomum zylanika) is indigenous to Sri Lanka. Cinnamon is a highly delicious spice and also it has been prized for its medicinal properties thousand years. Cinnamon contain lot of anti-oxidants such as polyphenol which protect human body from oxidative damages caused by free radicals. Some anti-oxidants that contain in cinnamon have anti-inflammatory effect. Cinnamon has an ability to reduce the level of LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) and triglyceride level in blood while remaining HDL (High Density Lipoprotein). It helps to reduce risk of getting heart diseases. Cinnamon can improve sensitivity to the hormone insulin so cinnamon has a blood sugar lowering property. There are scientific evidences which cinnamon has potential to cancer prevention. Cinnamon has ability to reducing cancer cells and some chemicals in cinnamon toxic to cancer cells, causing cell death.

Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is one of the most commonly used spice. Black pepper not only a spice, it used in ancient Ayurvedic medicine for thousands years due to high concentration of potent, beneficial plant compounds. Black pepper contain piperine. Animal studies has shown that piperine has an ability to improve brain function. And also piperine may help to improve blood sugar metabolism. Therefore black pepper helps to reduce blood sugar level. High cholesterol levels in blood directly associated. Scientific studies have shown that black pepper has potential to reduce blood cholesterol level. Active compound in piperine, may have cancer fighting ability. Black pepper may increase the absorption of essential mineral nutrients such as calcium and selenium.

Clove also known as Syzygiyum aromaticum an evergreen plant and major export spice in Sri Lanka. The flower bud of the clove tree use as the spice. In fact most of animal studies found that the compounds in clove may be beneficial for the human health. Clove provide important nutrients such as manganese, vitamin K and vitamin C. Clove contain some anti-oxidants reduce the oxidative stress, which can contribute to the development of chronic diseases. Clove contain eugenol. Eugenol may be beneficial to the liver health by reducing the risk of getting fatty liver. Some compounds found in clove, may help to regulate blood sugar.

Nutmeg is made from the seed Myristica fragrans plant. It is a most popular spice in world wide. Most commonly nutmeg is used for its flavor than the its health benefits. Nutmeg contain powerful compounds that may help to promote overall human health and prevent from diseases. Like other spices nutmeg also contain anti-oxidants which reduce oxidative stress. Some animal studies have shown that nutmeg may have the property to enhance sex drive and performance. Bacteria like Streptococcus mutance and Aggregatibacter actinomycetecomitans can cause to gum diseases and dental cavities. Nutmeg has powerful anti-bacterial effect against these bacteria.

Written by :
Ms. E G Prasadika Sanjeewani Somarathna
Department of Food Science and Technology (Reading),
Faculty of Agriculture
University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.

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Published in Ceylon Spices
Sunday, 20 October 2019 07:23

Spice Island

Lets start with the questions "What is a Spice?" , What is this well known "Spice Island"? And why this small island known as Spice Island?

What is a Spice?

A spice is a plant part that are ultimately loaded with vast variety of flavors than most other ingredients used in cooking and many more purposes. Whereas spices tend to derive from fruits, roots, seeds, flowers, stems, bark and herbs always comes from the leafy part and most of them are usually dried to a recommended condition. Majority of flavor compounds in spices oil, rather than water soluble they are stored within bubbles of oil. Spices are kind of an engineering output which has a structure to keep those oils locked away and will be released only if the plant is damaged or attacked by an infection. After the bubbles rapture and the oil is exposed to air, the flavor compounds evaporates into gases. This reaction is happening in all meal dishes and in other products that are made using spices.

And now to the second question. What is this well known Spice Island?

A tiny, beautiful island in the Indian Ocean which has a great history of trade for centuries around the world, also called as the "Pearl of Indian Ocean", and later known as Ceylon, Serendib and yes now Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a tropical country located near to the equator which has a huge variety of bio diversity around the country with few world heritages. Because of it's unique location it has been gifted with a valuable soil, a vast bio diversity, and appropriate weather conditions to grow crops throughout the year. Past the traders who have visited Ceylon has traded spices and many more products through silk route which are originated and produced only in Sri Lanka. Moreover Sri Lanka is known as a Agricultural Country which has a huge production of agricultural products to the world.

Finally to the third and the last, Why this small island known as Spice Island?

At the second paragraph I have mentioned that Sri Lanka aka Ceylon is a Tropical country with an appropriate weather all around the year to cultivate crops. Because of that, many Sri Lankans were farmers that grew many kinds of crops throughout the year. Spices has played a major role among those crops in few parts of the country. A well known spice around the world, Cinnamon or Ceylon Cinnamon or True Ceylon Cinnamon is a native plant to Sri Lanka and and only grown in Sri Lanka for decades. From 1600 BCE, Ancient Egyptians used a type of cinnamon as a spice which was bought from African traders and no one knew whether it is Cinnamon or something else until the Portuguese found cinnamon trees growing in Sri Lanka in the early 1500s. And the trade moved with the invasions of Dutch and British for centuries over control of the territory and lucrative trade. Cinnamon was the main and the best spice from the spices from Sri Lanka among the traders and buyers around the world which was the reason to became as the Spice Island among the world population. Also Sri Lanka was a leading producer of Ceylon Black Pepper, Cloves, Nutmeg and Mace, Vanilla, Cardamom and many more. We at KAgroo produce authentic Sri Lankan spices to the local and world market with the highest quality.

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Published in Ceylon Spices

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  • Spice Island
    Spice Island Lets start with the questions "What is a Spice?" , What is this well known "Spice Island"? And why this small island known as Spice Island? What is a Spice? A spice is a plant part that are ultimately loaded with vast variety of flavors than most other ingredients used…
    Written on Sunday, 20 October 2019 07:23