One of many essential beneficial plant that we have in Nigeria is the pepper fruit. However, many people are unaware of the wondrous things they stand to gain from eating this fruit.
Pepper fruit, which is botanically known as Dennettia tripetala belongs to the Annonaceae family. It is a tropical plant that is dominant in the West African sub-region, especially Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Cameroon.
It is well known locally as mmimmi by the Igbo people of Nigeria, Ata Igebere or Igberi by the Yoruba, Imako by the Niger Deltas and Urhobo, ako by Bini; and Nkarika by the Efik and Ibibio.
It is a pungent, pepperish, spicy medicinal plant that is characterised by greenish appearance, when unripe, but tends to be reddish or pinkish in colour when ripe. Pepper fruit tree thrives mainly in the Savannah and rainforest zones while the fruit usually ripens between April and May.
Edible mature pepper fruit is mostly chewed raw, but can also be used for food preparations and for preparing herbal medicines. The fruits, leaves, roots and barks of the Dennettia tripetala plant are distinguished by their strong pungent, spicy and pepperish taste, fragrance and aroma
According to study, pepper fruit also contains water-soluble vitamins such as niacin, ascorbic acid, riboflavin and thiamine. Also, study shows that unripe pepper fruit contains higher amount of vitamin C, vitamin A and minerals more than the ripe ones. Thus, it is highly recommended that people should consume Dennettia tripetala due to its high nutritional value
Another benefit of pepper fruit is that it can be used as a pepperish spice for seasoning and flavouring food such as white soup, spicy fish, hot drinks, alcoholic drinks, beverages, meat, vegetables, stew, sauces and sausages. The pepper fruit can also act as a substitute for ginger in zobo drink production.
Pepperfruit can also help in post-partum care. Pepper fruit seeds are essential for preparing food for new mothers, immediately after childbirth, as the spice aids uterus contraction. Pepper fruit can be used together with scotch bonnet peppers, utazi for hot soup preparations for new mothers.
Lastly, another benefit derived from eating pepper fruit is that it has anti-ulcer properties due to its composition of ethanol.
According to research, the ethanol extract of pepper fruit seed has potent and anti-ulcer effect against aspirin-induced ulcer, which can be attributed to its flavonoid