Pepper fruit [scientifically known as Dennettia tripetala G. Baker.] is a peppery fruit from the Annonaceae family, and it is widely consumed in West African countries like Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, and the likes.
This spicy fruit is often called different names by different tribes in Nigeria; it is called “Mmimi” in Igbo land, “Ata Igbere” in Yoruba, “Nkarika” in Efik, and “Imako” in Niger Delta.
However, it is imperative to note that this fruit has a lot of uses; it can be eaten as food, it can be used in preparing herbal medicines, and it can also be used as a spice for seasoning and flavoring food.
Let’s find out the nutritional value of pepper fruit, the health benefits of pepper fruit and pepper fruit’s side effects.
Nutritional Value of Pepper Fruit
A study showed that Dennettia tripetala (Nigerian pepper fruit) contained crude protein (15.31%), total carbohydrate (62%), crude fibres (9.84%), crude lipids (3.47%) and moisture (8.0%). It also had a calorific value of 480.24 calories in 100g of fresh pepper fruit. The nutritional value of pepper fruit also contains vital minerals, which comprised of calcium (1.80%), phosphorus (0.33%), potassium (2.50%), and magnesium (0.42%). Other minerals present were iron, copper, zinc, and cadmium. It also contained water-soluble vitamins such as ascorbic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin.
7 Awesome Health Benefits of Pepper Fruit
Here are some benefits of Pepper fruit you need to know:
1. Prevents Cancer
Pepper fruit is an excellent source of flavonoids and vital anti-inflammatory properties which are scientifically-proven to be effective in reducing the occurrence of cancer and improving the existing ones.
To be specific, pepper fruit helps in reducing the risk of cancer as it contains anti-inflammatory properties which help in inhibiting inflammation which could result in abnormal growth or cancer.
In a similar vein, multiple studies [including the one conducted by Graf et al., 2005 and Jagla, S.W (2013), as well as the University of Illinois at Chicago in United States (US)] hypothesized that pepper fruit extract hinders the growth of prostate cancer cells in the human body as a result of its growth-inhibitory and cytotoxic effects.
In addition to the above, a study which was featured in the International Journal of Cancer in 2009 also reveals that Pepper fruit is capable of lowering the risk of breast cancers. The study reported that premenopausal women who consumed foods that contain a higher amount of carotenoids [which is found in Pepper fruit] had a reduced risk of breast cancer as it positively affected their estrogen’s signaling ability.
2. Treats Infantile Convulsion
Infantile convulsion is a neurological genetic disorder which affects infants, especially within their first twelve months and it may further lead to paroxysmal kinesigenic choreoathetosis if left untreated. However, the good news is that pepper fruit oil, fruit, and seed extract contains 1-nitro-2-phenyl ethane and other potent properties which exhibit hypnotic, anticonvulsant, and anxiolytic effects that help in dealing with neurological genetic disorders like an infantile convulsion.
That said, there are several countries [including Nigeria] where pepper fruit is being used in preparing herbal medicines for treating infantile convulsion and other related disorders, and they are considered to be very effective.
Furthermore, it will interest you to know that pepper fruit does not only help in treating infantile convulsion but also helps in stimulating sleep for people who find it difficult to get a sound sleep. Why? It contains 1-nitro-2-phenyl ethane as well as other related properties, which exhibits a hypnotic effect.
3. Contains Anti-Viral Properties
Cold is one of the most common viral infectious diseases of the upper respiratory tract in Nigeria, and you may develop it due to several reasons. Parts of its basic symptoms include watery eyes, sneezing, sore throat, coughing, nasal congestion, etc.
On the plus side, Pepper fruit is rich in anti-viral properties which help in combating viral infectious diseases like cold, cough, and fever. They are also mixed with other ingredients to prepare local herbs for treating cold and its common symptoms.
4. Improves the Organs of the Body
The human body relies on various organs to keep functioning effectively day in day out. However, if there is any damage to any of the crucial organs such as the liver and kidney, it may have an adverse effect on the overall functioning of the body.
Fortunately, multiple studies reveal that pepper fruit extracts help in boosting the functions of the liver as well as the kidney while preventing them from infections that could inhibit their activities or cause colossal damage.
5. Serves as a Postpartum Tonic
Many Nigerians have wondered if there was a relation between pepper fruit and pregnancy. Well, pepper fruit is great from women after childbirth because it serves as a postpartum tonic.
Pepper fruit is an excellent post-partum tonic for nursing mothers as it contains an active compound which helps in stimulating uterus contraction, healing of the wounds sustained when giving birth, as well as providing relief to the mum.
To enjoy this particular benefit, you may grind a certain quantity of pepper fruit seeds and use in preparing food for the nursing mum immediately after giving birth. The mother may also eat the fruit raw as it produces a similar effect.
6. Good for Diabetic Patients
Diabetes is often caused or complicated by numerous factors, including a spike in the blood sugar. Meanwhile, there are several studies [such as the one conducted by Anaga and Asuzu in 2010] which posited that pepper fruit could help lower blood sugar levels as it contains potent antihyperglycemic properties while also reducing the plasma glucose level in mammals by a significant margin. This simply means regular intake of pepper fruit can help put blood sugar levels in check to prevent or control diabetes.
7. Helps in Treating Gastrointestinal Diseases
Gastrointestinal diseases include stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting, worm infestation, to mention but a few. People with any of these conditions are often faced with a lot of discomforts, and it may also affect their activeness for that particular period.
Pepper fruit is packed with numerous properties which help in treating these diseases, while its leaves, fruits, and roots are also used in preparing herbal medicines for combating gastrointestinal diseases.
Pepper Fruit Side Effects
Consumption of pepper fruits should be avoided or reduced during pregnancy.
Although pepper fruit causes contraction of the uterus, which is good for nursing mothers, it also can lead to adverse conditions and even forced or premature labor for pregnant women, especially in the third trimester. It is best to consult your physician for more information.
Some women who are allergic to pepper fruit can also experience discomfort when consuming pepper and should not eat pepper during their pregnancy
Other side effects of pepper fruit will arise if you consume too much pepper fruit because it will lead to gastrointestinal problems. Although it is not yet valid, pepper fruit might also serve as an emmenagogue (i.e abortificient).
From this article, you can see that pepper fruit has a lot of amazing health benefits. It contains many vital nutritive substances such as vitamins, minerals, and fibre. This proves that it is a healthy food with good medicinal properties. They can serve as potent, nutritious food supplements and herbal drug.