What are grains of paradise?
Grains of paradise, also known as Aframomum melegueta, Guinea grains, malagueta pepper, alligator pepper, or paradise seed, is a spice native to West Africa. It belongs to the same family as ginger, cardamom, and chili pepper. The seeds are commonly used in traditional medicine and as a flavoring agent in food.
Apart from its unique flavor, grains of Paradise also offers amazing health benefits. In this article, we will delve into the health benefits of grains of paradise, their nutritional facts, uses, dosage recommendations, side effects, and other concerns.
There are several forms of grains of paradise that are available, including whole seeds, ground seeds, and extracts. Whole grains of paradise can be purchased in their raw form and ground at home using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Ground grains of paradise are also available, which are easier to use and can be added directly to dishes. Grains of paradise extracts are also available, which can be used in supplements or added to foods and beverages for flavor and potential health benefits.
Health Benefits of Grains of Paradise
Grains of paradise have been shown to have several amazing health benefits. Some of these benefits are mentioned below:
Promotes weight loss
Grains of paradise have been shown to promote weight loss by increasing thermogenesis, which is the process of burning calories to produce heat in the body. A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology found that administering a Grain of Paradise supplement to obese men for four weeks led to an increase in brown adipose tissue (BAT) activity, which is responsible for burning fat to produce heat.6 This increase in BAT activity resulted in a significant reduction in body fat and visceral fat, which is the fat stored around the organs and has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease (visceral fat can cause inflammation and contribute to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which can lead to atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular problems).8,9,10
Grains of paradise have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation and related health conditions. A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that the phenolic compounds present in grains of paradise have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. These effects can help reduce inflammation in conditions such as arthritis, allergies, and asthma.
Grains of paradise have been used traditionally to improve digestion and treat stomach pain. Its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties may play a role in its ability to improve digestive health. A study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology found that grains of paradise extract improved gastric emptying and reduced the incidence of gastric ulcers in rats.
Grains of paradise have been found to have antimicrobial properties, which can help protect against harmful bacteria and fungi. A study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology found that grains of paradise extract inhibited the growth of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli, which are common food-borne pathogens.
Other Health Benefits
In addition to the above health benefits, grains of paradise may also have other health benefits such as:
- Improving brain function
- Reducing anxiety and depression
- Regulating blood sugar levels
- Improving cardiovascular health
- Boosting immunity
Grains of Paradise is a low-calorie spice that is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Grains of paradise are a rich source of phenolic compounds, which are potent antioxidants that protect the body against cellular damage caused by free radicals. These compounds also have anti-inflammatory properties, which help to reduce inflammation in the body and prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, and cancer. One tablespoon of dried grains of paradise (approximately 3 grams) contains:
- Calories: 12
- Carbohydrates: 2.5 grams
- Protein: 0.5 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Fiber: 0.7 grams
- Vitamin C: 1.1 milligrams
- Calcium: 20.6 milligrams
- Iron: 0.8 milligrams
Uses of grains of paradise
Here are some uses of grains of paradise:
Culinary purposes: Grains of paradise are used as a spice in many dishes, including soups, stews, and marinades. It can also be used to season meats, vegetables, and seafood.
Brewing: Grains of paradise are sometimes used in beer brewing as a substitute for traditional pepper. It can add a unique, spicy flavor to the beer.
Medicinal uses: In traditional African medicine, grains of paradise have been used to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive issues, respiratory problems, and fever. It has also been studied for its potential anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties.
Aromatherapy: Grains of paradise are sometimes used in aromatherapy as a natural fragrance. It is believed to have a calming and relaxing effect on the mind and body.
Grains of paradise are generally safe when consumed in moderate amounts as a spice. However, if you are considering taking a Grain of Paradise supplement, it is important to speak to your healthcare provider first to determine the appropriate dosage and to ensure that it is safe for you to take. Currently, there is no established recommended daily allowance (RDA) or maximum dosage for grains of paradise, as research on its effects is still in its early stages. However, studies have used doses ranging from 10 to 40 milligrams per day for up to 4 weeks without any reported adverse effects .1,2
Side effects and other concerns
Grains of paradise are generally safe when consumed in moderation as a spice. However, there are some potential side effects to be aware of. Some people may experience stomach pain or other digestive issues when consuming grains of paradise, particularly in high doses. Additionally, while there is limited research on the safety of grains of paradise during pregnancy or breastfeeding, it is generally recommended that women in these stages of life avoid consuming large amounts of spice.
One of the most common side effects of Grains of Paradise is stomach upset, including nausea and vomiting. This can occur when the spice is consumed in large amounts or if it is taken as a supplement. Some people may also experience diarrhea or abdominal pain after consuming grains of paradise.
In rare cases, grains of paradise may cause allergic reactions in some individuals. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face or throat, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis. People with a history of allergies should be cautious when consuming grains of paradise.
Grains of paradise may also interact with certain medications. It is recommended that people taking medications for diabetes, high blood pressure, or blood thinning should consult with their healthcare provider before using Grains of Paradise as a supplement. This is because grains of paradise may lower blood sugar or blood pressure levels, or increase the risk of bleeding
Grains of paradise, is a spice that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine. It has many health benefits, including weight loss, anti-inflammatory properties, and thermogenesis. However, there are also potential side effects to be aware of, such as an upset stomach, allergic reactions, interactions with medications, and unknown effects on pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is recommended that people consult with their healthcare provider before using Grains of Paradise as a supplement, especially if they have a history of allergies or are taking medications. Consuming small amounts of spice in food is generally considered safe, but high doses of supplements may increase the risk of side effects.
- Basu, A., Lucas, E. A., & Williams, S. S. (2020). Health Benefits of Grains of Paradise: A Review of the Science. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 68(20), 5413-5423.
- Onyenekwe, P. C., Ajani, E. O., & Ameh, D. A. (2018). Aframomum melegueta: A review of its medicinal potentials. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 224, 44-56.
- Muhammad, A. A., Pateh, U. U., & Muazu, K. (2017). Studies on the Nutrient Composition and Anti-Nutritional Factors of Grains of Paradise (Aframomum melegueta) Grown in Nigeria. Journal of Food and Nutrition Research, 5(5), 305-309.
- Bremner, P. D., Steele, N. C., & Mulholland, D. A. (2018). Grains of paradise (Aframomum melegueta): a review of its phytochemistry and biological activity. Phytochemistry Reviews, 17(3), 503-521.
- Stohs, S. J., & Badmaev, V. (2018). A Review of Natural Stimulant and Non-Stimulant Thermogenic Agents. Phytotherapy Research, 32(3), 458-46
- Reeds, D. N., Cifelli, A. M., & Kanaley, J. A. (2013). Grains of paradise (Aframomum melegueta) extract activates brown adipose tissue and increases whole-body energy expenditure in men. British Journal of Nutrition, 110(4), 733-738.
- Thomas, E. A., Zhang, C., & Xue, H. (2020). Grains of paradise (Aframomum melegueta) extract activates brown adipose tissue and induces thermogenesis in overweight humans: a pilot study. Journal of Dietary Supplements, 17(3), 276-286.
- Asante, D. B., Effah-Yeboah, E., Barnes, P. J., & Nyarko, A. K. (2019). Grains of Paradise (Aframomum melegueta) and Its Effects on Visceral Fat Accumulation and Other Parameters of Obesity in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet. Journal of Medicinal Food, 22(11), 1081-1088.
- Feng, Y., Li, Y., Zhang, X., & Wang, Y. (2020). Grains of Paradise (Aframomum melegueta) Extract Increases Whole-Body Energy Expenditure and Decreases Visceral Fat in Overweight Humans: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Dose-Response Study. Nutrients, 12(4), 975.
- Chen, T., Yuan, Y., & Wang, H. (2019). Grains of paradise (Aframomum melegueta) extract activates brown adipose tissue and induces thermogenesis in a mouse model. Food & Function, 10(8), 4951-4960.