One of the most popular spices in the world is sichuan pepper, and with good reason! There are countless health benefits of sichuan pepper, including its ability to stimulate the immune system, reduce pain, boost the appetite, increase circulation, strengthen the bones, and reduce inflammation.
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What is Sichuan Pepper?
You have likely eaten a dish with the name “Sichuan” in it, perhaps from your favorite Chinese restaurant, but have you ever considered what a sichuan pepper really is? Sichuan pepper (or sichuan peppercorn) is a very common spice in Indian, Chinese, Tibetan, Nepalese and Thai cuisine. Sichuan pepper is a composite spice from the Zanthoxylum genus, but is actually closely related to citrus fruits, rather than typical black peppercorns, as people typically assume. The entire husk or shell surrounding the seeds is used for culinary preparations, or it can be ground down into a powdery spice. Sichuan pepper is an important component in five-spice powder, which you will find in many Asian recipes. This particular genus has more than 250 species, many of which have similar properties and flavor profiles, but Sichuan peppers have certainly gained the most recognition in the culinary world. In some cultures, the dried leaves of sichuan peppercorns are also ground into a spice. The small reddish-brown kernels pack a decent amount of spice, but it comes as more of a citrusy tang, rather than the traditional “fire” or spice of a hot pepper. This makes it more appealing to the masses, who can also benefit from the nutritional composition of this spice.
Sichuan pepper contains many different minerals, antioxidants and nutrients that the body requires to properly function. Some of the most important components include potassium, vitamin A, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, and phosphorous. This is in addition to a wide variety of phytosterols, terpenes and carotenes. Now, let’s see what this unique combination of nutrients can do in terms of health effects!
Health Benefits of Sichuan Pepper
Benefits of sichuan pepper is as follows:
If you have ever felt lethargic, lightheaded or weak without any real explanation, you may have been suffering from anemia. Otherwise known as iron deficiency, anemia is one of the most common health problems. Fortunately, the high levels of iron found in sichuan pepper will help to ensure that there is enough hemoglobin in your body to oxygenate your red blood cells and stimulate the circulatory system.
Although people associate peppers with spice and heat, most pepper varietals actually function as analgesic substances. Chemicals found in sichuan peppers can occupy pain receptors, thus eliminating the nervous system from generating discomfort or pain. This isn’t a cure for pain, but it is a wonderful treatment. This applies to topical applications as well.
High levels of zinc found in sichuan peppers mean that this potent spice is important for the strength of the immune system. Many people overlook zinc and ignore its impressive effects in boosting our immune system. There are also few signs of zinc deficiency, so it can easily go unnoticed. The volatile oil os sichuan pepper is also packed with antioxidants and other chemicals that have anti-fungal and antiviral qualities, making this pepper variety particularly effective.
If you are recovering from an injury or illness, it can often be difficult to get your appetite back on track. However, when your body is healing and repairing, that is when you need nutrients the most! Various compounds within sichuan pepper will stimulate the appetite and improve the speed of the metabolism, meaning that you will derive energy and nutrients from the food you eat even faster.
Strengthen the Bones
There are quite a few important minerals found in trace amounts within sichuan pepper, including phosphorous, manganese, copper and iron, all of which are necessary to build strong bones and prevent age-related conditions like osteoporosis. Our body’s bone mineral density decreases as we age, so it is important to supplement our mineral intake whenever possible; sichuan peppers are very helpful in that department.
The various antioxidants and organic acids in sichuan pepper, including phytosterols and terpenes, have certain anti-inflammatory effects throughout the body. Inflammation results from oxidative stress, which in turn is caused by free radical activity in the body. The compounds found within sichuan pepper can neutralize these free radicals and stop inflammation at the root. It is also an effective remedy for existing inflammation issues, such as arthritis and gout.
Prevent Chronic Disease
Cancer and other chronic diseases can be caused by an excessive amount of free radicals causing healthy cells to mutate. Antioxidants, like those found in sichuan peppers, are the best natural way to lower your risk of taking on too much oxidative stress and putting your body at risk of developing one of these potentially lethal conditions.
Protect the Stomach
When it comes to digestive health, sichuan peppers can stimulate the process and speed it up, while reducing inflammation in the gut and stimulating the metabolism. The various compounds in sichuan pepper can prevent cramping, bloating, and constipation, which can prevent more serious conditions, such as gastric ulcers or colorectal cancer.
Lower Blood Pressure
The significant levels of potassium found in sichuan pepper make this spice an excellent booster for cardiovascular health. Potassium functions as a vasodilator, causing blood vessels and arteries to relax, preventing high blood pressure and lowering the potential effect of blood clots of cholesterol. By lowering blood pressure, sichuan pepper is able to protect against atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes.
There are a number of antioxidants and vitamins found in sichuan pepper that can improve human health, and when it comes to our vision, few things are as powerful as beta-carotene. This powerful antioxidant can reduce oxidative stress in the ocular system and keep the retina healthy, while also reducing your risk of macular degeneration and vision loss.