Pepper Fruit, scientifically known as Dennettia tripetala G. Baker, is a piquant tropical fruit from the Annonaceae family. It is common across West African nations such as Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Cameroon. This zesty fruit goes by various names in different Nigerian tribes, known as “Mmimi” in Igbo, “Ata Igbere” in Yoruba, “Nkarika” in Efik, and “Imako” in the Niger Delta.
This popular fruit boasts a multitude of applications. It can be savored as a delectable snack, wielded as an ingredient in herbal remedies, or employed as a flavorful spice to enhance the taste of various dishes.
Now, let’s discuss the nutritional richness of Pepper Fruit, uncover its health benefits, and explore any potential side effects associated with its consumption.
Nutritional content of Pepper Fruit
A comprehensive study unveiled the nutritional composition of Dennettia tripetala, commonly known as Nigerian pepper fruit. The analysis disclosed the following components in 100g of fresh pepper fruit: crude protein (15.31%), total carbohydrates (62%), crude fibers (9.84%), crude lipids (3.47%), and moisture content (8.0%). Impressively, the pepper fruit exhibited a calorific value of 480.24 calories per 100g.
Furthermore, this nutritional treasure trove encompassed essential minerals, including calcium (1.80%), phosphorus (0.33%), potassium (2.50%), and magnesium (0.42%). Trace amounts of other minerals such as iron, copper, zinc, and cadmium were also detected. Notably, pepper fruit harbors water-soluble vitamins like ascorbic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin.
7 Health Benefits of Pepper Fruit
May help with cancer prevention
Pepper fruit is a potent source of flavonoids and anti-inflammatory compounds that have been scientifically linked to cancer prevention. These properties work to inhibit inflammation, which could lead to abnormal cell growth or cancer. Studies, including one by Graf et al. in 2005 and Jagla, S.W., in 2013, as well as research from the University of Illinois at Chicago in the United States, suggest that pepper fruit extracts can hinder the growth of prostate cancer cells due to their growth-inhibitory and cytotoxic effects. Additionally, a study featured in the International Journal of Cancer in 2009 revealed that pepper fruit consumption can reduce the risk of breast cancer, particularly in premenopausal women, as it positively affects estrogen signaling.
Pepper fruit, renowned for its use in traditional herbal medicines, is notably effective in treating neurological genetic disorders such as infantile convulsions. Rich in 1-nitro-2-phenyl ethane and other potent properties, pepper fruit oil, fruit, and seed extracts exhibit hypnotic, anticonvulsant, and anxiolytic effects that aid in addressing neurological genetic disorders. In some countries, including Nigeria, pepper fruit is a key ingredient in herbal remedies for treating infantile convulsions and related disorders. Moreover, it promotes restful sleep for individuals struggling with insomnia due to its hypnotic effects.
Good source of anti-viral properties
Cold, a common viral upper respiratory tract infection, plagues many individuals, often resulting from various factors. Pepper fruit boasts anti-viral properties that combat viral infections like cold, cough, and fever. These properties are harnessed in local herbal preparations to address the symptoms of cold and related ailments.
Organs health enhancement
Pepper fruit extracts have been found to enhance the functions of vital organs like the liver and kidneys. Studies indicate that these extracts bolster organ health by protecting against infections and damage, ensuring the organs perform optimally. Healthy liver and kidney function is crucial for overall well-being.
For postpartum women, pepper fruit serves as an excellent tonic. It stimulates uterine contractions, aids in wound healing after childbirth, and provides relief to new mothers. Preparing food with ground pepper fruit seeds or consuming the fruit raw can offer these postpartum benefits.
Beneficial for Diabetic Patients
Pepper fruit may assist in managing diabetes by helping regulate blood sugar levels. Research, such as a study by Anaga and Asuzu in 2010, suggests that pepper fruit possesses antihyperglycemic properties, reducing plasma glucose levels in mammals. This potential blood sugar regulation can aid in diabetes prevention and management.
Gastrointestinal Disease Treatment
Pepper fruit is effective in treating gastrointestinal diseases, including stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting, and worm infestations. Its leaves, fruits, and roots are used in herbal remedies to combat these ailments, offering relief from discomfort and restoring overall well-being.
Possible Side Effects
Caution During Pregnancy
It is advisable for pregnant women to limit or avoid the consumption of pepper fruit. While the uterine contractions induced by pepper fruit can benefit nursing mothers, they may pose risks during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester. Excessive consumption could potentially lead to adverse conditions and even premature labor. Pregnant women are strongly encouraged to consult their physicians for guidance and more information on safe dietary choices during pregnancy.
Women who are allergic to pepper fruit should exercise caution and refrain from consuming it during pregnancy. Allergic reactions can cause discomfort and pose risks to both the mother and the baby. If you have known allergies to pepper fruit or related substances, it is best to avoid them altogether during pregnancy.
Potential Gastrointestinal Issues
Overconsumption of pepper fruit can result in gastrointestinal problems. While the specifics of this effect may vary from person to person, it is essential to consume pepper fruit in moderation to prevent discomfort or digestive issues.
While there is no conclusive evidence to support this claim, it is suggested that pepper fruit may have emmenagogue properties, meaning it could potentially stimulate menstruation. Pregnant women should exercise caution regarding this possibility, and if there are concerns about its impact during pregnancy, consultation with a healthcare professional is advisable.
Pepper fruit is indeed a remarkable fruit that offers various nutritional, medicinal, and health benefits for the human body. When consumed in moderation and with consideration of individual sensitivities, it can be a valuable addition to one’s diet.