Allspice nutrition facts
Allspice, also known popularly as Jamaican pepper or pimento, is one of the widely used spice ingredients in the Mexican and other Central American cuisines. The spice corn is a dried "unripe" fruit obtained from the evergreen tropical shrub belonging to the family of myrtaceae of the genus of pimento. Scientific name: Pimenta dioica.
The pimento tree is native to tropical evergreen rain forest of Central American region and Caribbean islands. Generally, the plant starts bearing fruits after about five years of implantation.
Unripe green berries, generally, picked up when they reach full size and then subjected to sun light drying thoroughly. Thus, shriveled berries appear similar to brown peppercorns,measuring about 6 mm in diameter but contain two seeds unlike peppercorns which have only one centrally placed seed.
Grounded allspice has strong spicy taste and aroma that closely resembles mixture of pepper, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon.
Health benefits of Allspice
The active principles in the allspice found to have anti-inflammatory, rubefacient (warming and soothing), carminative and anti-flatulent properties.
Allspice contains many health benefiting essential oils such as eugenol, a phenylpropanoids class of chemical compound, which gives pleasant, sweet aromatic fragrances to this spice. It also contains caryophyllene, methyleugenol, glycosides, tannins, quercetin, resin and sesquiterpenes. These volatile oils obtained through distillation process using this spice corns. The outer coat of the berries is believed to have the greatest medicinal activity.
As in black pepper corns, the active principles in the allspice may increase the motility of the gastro-intestinal tract as well as increase the digestion power by increasing gastro-intestinal secretions.
Eugenol, has local anesthetic and antiseptic properties, hence; useful in gum and dental treatment procedures. Recent research studies have shown that preparation made from allspice oil mixed with extractions from garlic and oregano can work against E.coli, Salmonella and L.monocytogenes infections.
The spice is enriched with good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, copper, selenium, and magnesium. Iron is an important co-factor for cytochrome-oxidase enzymes during cellular metabolism. It is also required for red blood cell production in the bone marrow. Being an important component of cell and body fluids, potassium helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the powerful antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
The spice also contains very good amounts of vitamin-A, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), riboflavin, niacin and vitamin-C. Vitamin C is a powerful natural antioxidant; regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
|Principle||Nutrient value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||8.69 g||29%|
|Dietary Fiber||21.6 g||54%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.210 mg||16%|
|Vitamin A||540 IU||18%|
|Vitamin C||39.2 mg||65%|
Selection and storage
Allspice is available year around. In the store, buy whole allspice corns instead of grounded (powder) since, oftentimes it may contain adulterated spicy powders. The corns should be wholesome, heavy, round and compact.
Generally, these spicy corns can be stored at room temperature for many years and can be milled using hand mill as and when required. Once grounded or powdered, pimento corns should be stored in the refrigerator in airtight containers and should be used as early as possible since it loses its flavor quickly largely because of evaporation of essential oils.
In order to keep the fragrance and flavor intact, allspice is generally grind just before preparing dishes and added to the cooking recipes at final stages. This is because prolonged cooking results in evaporation of essential oils.
Here are some serving methods:
- Pimento corns are widely used in Caribbean cuisines. In Jamaica, the corns, along with the scotch bonnet peppers, are one of the two main ingredients in famous Jamaican jerk spice. Along with other spices, its mixture (paste) is being used to rub, and to marinate chicken, fish, and meats.
- Some Indian vegetarian and chicken curries contain this spice and in the Middle East it is used in meat and rice dishes.
- The spice has also being used in the preparation of soups, barbecue sauces, pickling and as a main ingredient in variety of curry powders.
- It also used in liquors in many Caribbean countries. A local drink known as Jamaican dram made from allspice and rum.
The essential oil, eugenol derived from the allspice berry has been in therapeutic use in dentistry as a local anesthetic and antiseptic for teeth and gum.
The decoction obtained from this spice sometimes used in treating flatulence and indigestion in traditional medicine, but there is little or no data to support these claims.
The essential volatile oils in this pimento spice functions as rubefacient, meaning that it irritates the skin and expands the blood vessels, increasing the flow of blood to make the skin feel warmer, making it a popular home remedy for arthritis and sore muscles, used either as a poultice or in hot baths.
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