Despite of what they are called, Sichuan peppercorns are not related to black peppercorns — their slightly tangy flavor and less pungency are a testament to that. In fact, they are more related to the citrus family. Sichuan peppercorns, by the way, are actually the spicy dried peels of the berries of the sichuan plant.
Sichuan peppercorns are sometimes called szechuan peppercorns. It’s due to the fact that the plant they come from are native to Szechuan, which is a province in China.
Speaking of which, if you are into Chinese food, chances are you have come across dishes whose names have “sichuan” or “szechuan” in them several times. Yes, they are called as such due to the fact that sichuan or szechuan peppercorns are some of the most important ingredients that they have.
Having rust-like color, sichuan peppercorns are available whole or ground, but a lot of recipes call for the use of whole ones. Regardless of the form, however, there are numerous health benefits one can obtain from the popular spice, which is also one of the star ingredients in the so-called Chinese five-spice powder.
Without further ado, here are some of the perks sichuan peppercorns are known to offer:
Enhanced Digestive Process
Just like many other spices out there, sichuan peppercorns are very good at facilitating the digestive process, thus allowing you to get all the vital nutrients in the food you eat. Furthermore, experts say that sichuan peppercorns help in flushing out toxins in the lower GI tract, thus promoting a healthier gut.
Not all people want to reduce their food consumption because they want to lose weight. Some individuals actually want to increase their intake of food in order to gain weight or recover much faster from an illness. The simple addition of sichuan peppercorns to food is a way to have one’s appetite increased.
Improved Red Blood Cell Production
One of the many minerals found in sichuan peppercorns is iron, which is so important for the production of red blood cells. Without enough red blood cells, your blood won’t be able to transport oxygen properly, resulting in fatigue, shortness of breath, palpitations, paleness and other symptoms associated with iron-deficiency anemia.
Reduced Pain and Swelling
The regular inclusion of foods containing sichuan peppercorns in the diet can help treat and even prevent achy and swollen joints. It’s for the fact that the said spice possesses analgesic as well as anti-inflammatory properties. What’s so great about sichuan peppercorns is they are very good at easing joint pain and swelling without side effects.
It’s not just the joints that can benefit from sichuan peppercorns, but the bones themselves. That’s because there are a handful of minerals in sichuan peppercorns that help strengthen the bones. They are phosphorous, copper, manganese and potassium — yes, other minerals are also good for your bones, not just calcium.
Reduced Blood Pressure
Because of the presence of potassium, a blood pressure-lowering mineral, in sichuan peppercorns, making your various culinary masterpieces tastier with the said spice can help in keeping high blood pressure in check. Make sure that you also opt for healthy food choices, have regular exercise and reduce your stress.
Boosted Immune System
There is also zinc in sichuan peppercorns, a mineral so important for strengthening the immune system, say the experts. In addition, loads of antioxidants in sichuan peppercorns help in shielding the body from infections. By the way, the popular spice packs antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties, too!
Lowered Cancer Risk
Finally, the inclusion of sichuan peppercorns in the diet on a regular basis may help in reducing your risk of cancer. It has something to do with the fact that sichuan peppercorns are teeming with antioxidants that zap free radicals before they cause mutation of the cells, something that can lead to the development of cancer.