Cardamom is a spice with a slightly sweet but intense flavor that originated in India. Some people compare it with mint, and it is available all around the world. Cardamom is the ingredient of both savory and sweet recipes and is native to Nepal, India, Indonesia, and Bhutan. Cardamom pods are tiny, spindle-shaped, and triangular in cross-section.
It has several well-known names, including Elakkai, Ilaychi, Elaichi, Yelakulu, Hr̥dayarōga, Aelakka, Yalakki, and Hubaalhal. Cardamom, called the queen of spices, is the third most expensive spice in the world, just behind vanilla and saffron. It is a perennial plant belonging to the family of Zingiberaceae, which includes turmeric and ginger.
Moreover, it comes in several different types – two of the main types include Elettariacardamomum (true, large, or green cardamom) and Amomumsabulatum (winged, small, or black cardamom).
Due to the impressive medicinal properties, the oils, seeds, and cardamom extracts were an element in traditional medicine for ages. So, cardamom has its uses in both medicine and cooking. Cardamom, a common ingredient in Arabic and Middle Eastern food, has gained demand in the west.
People use cardamom pods and seeds in curries, desserts, meat dishes, and drinks like chai tea and coffee. Because of its health benefits, many people eat cardamom as a supplement too. Cardamom is rich in phytochemicals that have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Some of the people may buy cardamom as:
- An essential oil
- Pre-ground cardamom spice power produced from its seeds
- In a capsule form as an herbal treatment
- Whole seed pods (containing seed inside)
Nutritional Value of Cardamom
Cardamom contains several minerals, vitamins, and fibers. In addition, it has low calories and carbohydrates. According to the Department of Agriculture, one tablespoon of ground cardamom contains the following nutrients:
- Carbohydrates: 4.0 grams
- Calories: 18 grams
- Fiber: 1.6 grams
- Total fat: 0.4 grams
- Protein: 0.6 grams
Moreover, cardamom contains the following quantities of minerals and vitamins as well:
- Iron: 0.81 milligrams
- Potassium: 64.9 milligrams
- Magnesium: 13.3 milligrams
- Calcium: 22.2 milligrams
- Phosphorus: 10.3 milligrams
Health Benefits of Cardamom
Cardamom prevents specific significant illnesses like cancer and helps in enhancing digestive health. Moreover, it helps the person cope with stress and depression and aids in diabetes treatment. You can include it in your diet to enjoy its several benefits. You can consume cardamom milk as well to have the same advantages. Some of its health benefits include:
1. May Lower Blood Pressure
Cardamom may prove to be helpful for people with high blood pressure problems. In a study conducted on 20 people diagnosed with high blood pressure, researchers gave them three grams of cardamom powder every day. The results showed a significant decrease in blood pressure levels. And after 12 weeks, the blood pressure of the participants was in the normal range.
The findings of this study may link to the high concentration of antioxidants in cardamom. By the end of the study, the antioxidant status of the participants had increased by 90 percent. In another research, cardamom has been found to decrease blood pressure and increase urination in rats.
2. Antimicrobial Properties
Cardamom was considered to have infection-fighting properties. According to the suggestions from the studies, an alternative therapy against antibiotic-resistant pathogens can be cardamom.
Compared to the ancient herbal treatments, modern antibiotics have been associated with producing side effects (like suppression of bacteria in the intestine). Spices like cardamom inhibit only infectious microbes since they are not consistently powerful. However, they are not beneficial probiotics.
The theory was tested in the experiments with the extracts of cardamom. The cardamom oils were able to inhibit the spread and growth of dangerous microbes that may be a leading cause of food poising. So, the seed extracts of cardamom results in an antimicrobial effect.
3. Deal with Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome, defined as a group of health problems that can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease, includes:
- Low levels of ‘good’ cholesterol
- High triglycerides
- High blood sugar
- High cholesterol
A few of the studies have suggested that cardamom can help with some aspects of metabolic syndrome. In one animal study, the researchers fed the rats a high fat and carbohydrate diet. The rodents that consumed cardamom powder also had better cholesterol and lower weight. The sample that did not feed cardamom powder showed no such betterments.
The findings of a double-blind trial proposed that cardamom could enhancedisease and inflammation-causing specific biomarkers. Another study, carried out on 83 people, included the participants with type 2 diabetes. The researchers gave half of them a placebo, and the rest of them got green cardamom. After ten weeks, the participants who consumed cardamom experienced health benefits, including enhanced insulin levels and hemoglobin A1c.
4. May Contain Cancer-Fighting Compounds
Cardamom contains compounds that may help fight cancer cells. Moreover, it may also improve the natural killer cell’s ability to attack tumor cells. Studies conducted on mice have shown that the cardamom powder can increase the activities of certain cancer-fighting enzymes. Research on cardamom and human cancer cells show similar findings as that of animal studies.
One study indicated that specific compounds in cardamom terminated oral cancer cells from multiplying in the test tubes. Although the studies show promising results, more human research is needed to make secure claims.
5. Anti-inflammatory Properties
According to evidence, cardamom has certain compounds having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. A report of 2010 proposes that the extracts of cardamom and black pepper help in growing a healthy immune system.
6. Heart Health
Animal research has linked cardamom with improving heart health. Several more studies are essential before researchers know the effect of cardamom on the heart health of humans. A study on rats found that this spice could help protect against heart failure. The authors have suggested that the antioxidant activities of cardamom could help to enhance heart functions.
Potential Side Effects of Cardamom
Generally, cardamom is a spice that does not show consequences and is viewed as safe for most people. So, people use it in their dishes to receive its benefits. However, researchers have found a few side effects of this spice. The supplements of cardamom can lead to:
- Skin inflammation, dermatitis
- Glossitis (the inflammation in the tongue)
- A rare trigger of many allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis
- It can also lead to hormone disruption in humans. In cell studies, this spice was also able to hold together the hormone receptors.
- If you have a condition of gallstones, avoid the consumption of cardamom. It can trigger gallstone colic.
- Can cause issues with breastfeeding and pregnancy
Cardamom – Miraculously Beneficial
The health benefits of cardamom make it a well-liked spice by people all around the world. It is also an ancient remedy that protects from chronic diseases, gut discomfort, digestive problems, high blood sugar levels, and heals bad breath and infections. Moreover, cardamom enhances breathing, and its supplements provide some additional benefits as well.
However, you must take these supplements with caution and under the supervision of your physician. All in all, adding this spice will not only add flavor to your dishes but also improve your health in several aspects.