AllspiceSweetPepperyWarming

Allspice

Allspice Sweet Peppery Warming

Allspice has the combined flavor of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. This versatile spice blends easily with other spices and goes well in sweet and savory dishes. Eugenol is the predominant flavor compound. Cineole gives a fresh note with can accentuated with cineole spices. The other minor flavor compounds give allspice its full flavor.

Flavor chart allspice

AllspiceAllspice is the name given to the dried unripe berries from the evergreen tree ‘Pimenta Dioica’. Native to Central America, allspice has a long history of being used in folk medicine in this region. 4000 years ago, the Mayans were using the spice for its medicinal and culinary properties. The spice was introduced in Europe in the 16th century. Discovered by Columbus in Jamaica, who mistakenly named the spice Jamaican pepper. Hence the genus name Pimenta (the Portuguese word for pepper), although allspice looks like peppercorns, it is botanically not related to pepper. Allspice was the name given by the British to this spice, as its flavour resembles the combined flavour of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.

From its introduction in Europe, where its used to flavour many types of pastries, the spice was introduced globally and found its way into many different culinary kitchens. An essential ingredient for the Jamaican ‘jerk’ seasoning, it also became an indispensable ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine. Introduced by the Portuguese and British in India, allspice became a part of Ayurvedic medicine as a potent healing agent.

Allspice has traditionally been used to treat indigestion. The most abundant phenolic compound in allspice, eugenol, is known to stimulate the production of digestive enzymes. The antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties of allspice can all help to alleviate problems with food poisoning. The high antioxidant value of allspice also helps in relieving any digestive distress. Besides the eugenol, which has antioxidant value, allspice also contains quercetin and gallic acid, 2 other compounds with well documented antioxidant health benefits.

Women in Central America and the Caribbean have traditionally brewed a tea from allspice to alleviate menopausal symptoms and menstrual cramps. Allspice contains fyto-oestrogens which have a stabilizing effect on your hormone levels.

The reason these fyto-oestrogens do not have these detrimental effects is because the body has two types of oestrogen receptors, alpha and beta. Fyto-oestrogens have a particular affinity for beta-receptors. These oestrogen beta receptors we find in the bones and that’s why high consumption is associated with an increased bone mass. Oestrogen from animal sources increases the risk for fatal blood clots by causing the liver to release extra clotting factors. The liver contains solely alpha oestrogen receptors, which means that fyto-oestrogens only cause these problems if they are consumed in excessive amounts.

The uterus contains as well only the alpha oestrogen receptors, which is why we see no detrimental effects here with fyto-oestrogens. The fyto-oestrogens have shown to be actually protective against these health problems like prostate, breast and bowel cancer, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis.

The high antioxidant value of allspice is one reason why allspice has anticancer properties. The antioxidants present in allspice have all shown to stop cancerous growth and induce apoptosis (controlled cell death) in tumour cells. Although these studies have mostly been down in laboratory settings (in vitro) and not in humans (in vivo). With spices in general, the absence of negative side effects and a price of only a few cents, makes it a worthy addition to your diet.

Some of the benefits of allspice summed up:

  • Allspice has antibacterial properties.
  • Allspice has antifungal properties.
  • Allspice has antiviral properties.
  • Allspice is anti-inflammatory.
  • Allspice had anticancer properties.
  • Allspice can alleviate menstrual issues.
  • Allspice aids the digestion.
  • Allspice helps to improve blood circulation and can help in lowering your blood pressure.
  • Allspice is mostly sold organic, as the tree is easy to grow.

Resources:

Medicinal Properties of the Jamaican Pepper Plant Pimenta dioica and allspice. 

 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3891794/pdf/nihms543750.pdf

Isolation and identification of three new chromones from the leaves of Pimenta dioica with cytotoxic, oestrogenic and anti-oestrogenic effects

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6130578/

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