What is Allspice?
This powerful spice is actually derived from the dried fruit of the pimento tree, which is why it is commonly called Jamaica pepper, pimenta, or pimento, among other geography-specific nicknames. Native to Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and Mexico, the allspice bearing tree has the scientific name of Pimenta dioica and has gradually spread throughout the world due to its unique flavor and its healthy quality. The name allspice is because of the dried brown berries which look like large peppercorns, smell and taste like a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. The berries are picked when they’re ripe and allowed to dry in the sun, ending up as the slightly shriveled, hard berries known as allspice. These can then be ground up into spice for culinary use, or the essential oil can be extracted.
Allspice is a key ingredient in Caribbean cuisine, particularly in Jamaica, but it has also been adopted by many other cultures around the world, including the Middle East and parts of North America. This spice can be used in sweet or savoury dishes and is commonly found in desserts, chilis, soups, meat dishes, sauces, curries, and even certain types of liqueurs. The flavour is certainly unique, but what makes this spice even more intriguing is the high concentration of beneficial nutrients and organic compounds, such as eugenol, quercetin, and tannins that result in some impressive health benefits of allspice.
Health Benefits of Allspice
1.Aids in Digestion
6.Protects Heart Health
The potassium found in allspice has a positive effect on heart health, as it is a vasodilator and releases much of the tension on the cardiovascular system. This causes an increase in blood flow through the relaxed blood vessels and reduces the strain on the arteries and heart, thereby lowering the chances of developing atherosclerosis, and subsequently, strokes and heart attacks.
A 100-gram or 1 cup of allspice has:
Protein – 6.09g (11% of the recommended daily value)
Carbohydrates – 72.12g (55% RDV)
Total fat – 8.69g (29% RDV)
Dietary Fiber – 21.6g (54% RDV)
Vitamin A – 540 IU (18% RDV)
Vitamin B1 or Thiamin – 0.101mg (2.5% RDV)
Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin – 0.063mg (8.5% RDV)
Vitamin B3 or Niacin – 2.860mg (18% RDV)
Vitamin B5 or Pantothenic acid – 0.210mg (16% RDV)
Vitamin B6 or Pyridoxine – 0.210mg (16% RDV)
Vitamin B9 or Folic acid – 36 µg (9% RDV)
Vitamin C – 39.2mg (65% RDV)
Calcium – 661mg (66% RDV)
Copper – 0.553mg (61% RDV)
Iron – 7.06mg (88% RDV)
Zinc – 1.01mg (9% RDV)
Magnesium – 135mg (34% RDV)
Phosphorus – 113mg (16% RDV)
Manganese – 2.943mg (128% RDV)
Potassium – 1044mg (22% RDV)
Word of Caution: Although it is clearly a healthy, beneficial spice, it can cause serious allergic reactions in hypersensitive individuals. Also, if you have existing gastric ulcers or ulcerative colitis, it is best to avoid using this spice, as it can exacerbate the conditions. As always, before making any major change to your diet or trying out new things, consult a medical professional to make sure the effects won’t be negative.