Allspice, Pimenta dioica (formerly Pimenta officinalis), is closely related to clove, eucalyptus, guava and the bay rum tree and unlike its name implies it is one spice (not a collection of spices). Allspice is the only spice that is grown exclusively in the Western Hemisphere. It is native to the Caribbean (Jamaica), Mexico, Central America (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras) and South America (Brazil, Leeward Isle).
Allspice has a powerful flavor and fragrance. Ground allspice adds a spicy flavor and a light sprinkling is all that you need. It compliments many foods and is commonly used in both sweet and savory dishes. Along with adding flavor and warmth to food and drinks, allspice also has several health benefits.
Allspice has been used topically (either as its essential oil, poultice or in a hot bath) to relieve pain such as muscle aches and joint pains because of its ability to lower inflammation and pain in parts of the body. The active ingredients in allspice help eliminate inflammation, which makes it an ideal spice if you are suffering from arthritis, gout and muscle aches.
2) Aids Digestion
Allspice greatly helps with digestion by stimulating digestive enzymes. The eugenol in allspice can help to reduce or even eliminate digestive issues such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. Allspice also helps promote regularity and the reduction of bloating and gas. The anti-inflammatory properties of allspice also helps ease cramps, which can help the entire process of digestion.
Allspice is full of several beneficial compounds such as vitamin A, vitamin C, eugenol, quercetin, and tannins making it a powerful antioxidant. The antioxidants help our bodies to remove free radicals which leads to several diseases and age-related problems. Free radicals are the harmful byproducts of cellular metabolism which can lead to healthy cells to mutating, which can lead to serious diseases, even cancer. The vitamin A and vitamin C in allspice also helps contribute to this antioxidant activity.
4) Improves Cardiovascular Health
The potassium in allspice has been shown to relax blood vessels which increases blood flow throughout the body. This helps to reduce the strain on your heart, which promotes better cardiovascular health, lowers the chance of atherosclerosis and reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
5) Controls Insulin & Blood Sugar
Due to its low glycemic index allspice can help to slow the rise in blood sugar and, consequently, insulin levels. In studies, allspice has also been found to improve glucose and insulin metabolism.
Now that you know some of the many benefits of allspice how do you add it to your diet? Sprinkle it on roasted veggies to add a hint of warmth; add it to stews, curries and soups; sprinkle it into your coffee or tea; or make a nice jerk seasoning dish (allspice is a main ingredient in jerk seasoning).