Cardamom is a spice that originated from India and is commonly used in Indian cuisine. In many parts of the world, cardamom is famous as a cooking spice. What people don’t know is how to use cardamom for health benefits.
What Is Cardamom Pods?
Cardamom (/ˈkɑːrdəməm/), sometimes Cardamon or Cardamum, is a spice made from the seeds of several plants in the genera Elettaria and Amomum in the family Zingiberaceae. Both genera are native to India (the largest producer until the late 20th century), Bhutan, Indonesia, and Nepal. In Indonesia, it is known as “kapulaga“. They are recognized by their small seed pods: triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin papery outer shell and small black seed.
There are two major varieties of cardamom:
1. Green cardamom or true cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)
Elettaria pods are light green and small. Elettaria cardamomum is popular from India to Malaysia.
2. Black (or brown) cardamom (Amomum costatum, Amomum subulatum).
Amomum pods are dark brown and larger than green cardamoms. Amomum is mainly used in Asia and Australia and is also known as black, brown, Java, Bengal or Siamese cardamom.
The first references of cardamom trade came from Sri Lanka in the 12th century CE, where it was grown on a small scale in forests in the central mountain ranges. Nowadays, some other countries, such as Guatemala, Malaysia, and Tanzania also cultivated it. The German coffee planter, Oscar Majus Kloeffer, introduced Indian cardamom (Kerala) to cultivate in Guatemala before World War I.
By the year 2000, that country had become the biggest producer and exporter of cardamom in the world, followed by India. Cardamom is the third most expensive spice after vanilla and saffron. Its medicinal properties have been mentioned in the ancient Vedic text, which dates back to 3000 years! Thus, cardamom for health benefits has been proven for thousands of years.
Dioscorides, the Greek physician, pharmacologist, and botanist, described its use in the treatment of sciatica, coughs, spasm, abdominal pains and the retention of urine. In India, cardamom is a digestive aid, a spice, and a medicament.
Since the early 1800s, cardamom has been known to freshen breath, overcome the infection, and used as a digestive aid. The making of perfume and the kitchen uses its essential oil and oleoresin. Cardamom is used in many dishes from main courses and soups to desserts, drinks, and pastries.
The Nutrient Facts of Cardamom
Nutritional Facts per 100 g (source: USDA Food Composition Data Base )
Before reading more about cardamom for health benefits, let us watch a video below:
What are the Health Benefits of Cardamom?
Cardamom has many benefits for health:
1. An Anti Aging
Cardamom seeds and pods are rich in antioxidants, which are manganese, iron, phosphorus, copper, and vitamin C. Manganese is a powerful antioxidant mineral that prevents free radical damage to cells, promotes fast wound healing, supports thyroid activity and maintains a healthy reproductive system. Then, the good amounts of iron, phosphorus, and copper protect cells and DNA, prevents premature hair graying and iris discoloration. They also improve energy levels and contribute to bone strength. Antioxidant effects of vitamin C have been demonstrated in many experiments in vitro. Antioxidants delay aging signs as a result of oxidative stress from free radical and trigger tissue repair processes. Many plants have delay aging benefits, such as leek, curcumin, etc.
2. Fights Cancer
Cardamom contains indole-3-carbinol (IC3) and diindolylmethane (DIM). These two phytochemicals are cancer-fighters, specifically helping to counteract cancer-related hormonal responses, for example, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer. Cardamom also contains abundant antioxidants, adding the properties of cardamom to provide protection against the effects of aging and stress and the impact of free radicals that can trigger cancer.
Cardamom is a good source of potassium (24 % of the RDA) and magnesium (57 % of the RDA). Potassium regulates body fluid and blood pressure. Magnesium ensures calcium deposits in bones not on artery walls where it could build into plaques. The plaques may block blood flow and cause a heart attack or stroke.
A 2009 study published in the Indian Journal of Biochemistry & Biophysics analyzed the health effects of cardamom and found that participants given powdered cardamom daily for several months saw significant reductions in their blood pressure.
We can include cardamom seeds or powder in various foods, in soups and stews, and even in baked goods to get a special flavor and many health benefits.
4. Prevents Dangerous Blood Clots
Cardamom prevents dangerous blood clots by preventing platelets from sticking to the artery walls and clumping together (platelet aggregation). Platelets are the tiny blood cells that help stop bleeding by binding together to form a clump or plug at sites of injury inside blood vessels.
5. Boosts Immunity
The immune system is a host defense system comprising many biological structures and processes within an organism that protects against diseases. To function properly, an immune system must detect a wide variety of pathogens, from viruses to parasitic worms, and distinguish them from the organism’s own healthy tissue.
The High content of zinc (68 % RDA) is the factor that causes cardamom to support the immune system in fighting viruses and bacteria. Zinc is one of the best nutrients for a strong immune system.
The volatile essential oil in cardamom inhibits the growth of viruses, bacteria, fungus, and mold. These essential oils are pinene, sabinene, myrcene, phellandrene, Limonene, 8-cineol, terpinene, p-cymene, terpinolene, terpinene, p-cymene, terpinolene, terpinene-4-ol, terpineol, terpineol acetate, linalool, linalyl acetate, citronellol, nerol, geraniol, methyl eugenol, and trans-nerolidol.
6. Prevent Anemia
Cardamom is a good food source of iron ( Fe ). Iron plays a crucial role in the production of red blood cells and is also an important property in synthesizing the primary source of cellular energy. The nonheme form of iron found in plant-based foods like cardamom needs to be accompanied by vitamin C, meat or both to be readily absorbed. Eating cardamom as part of meat food that includes tomatoes which are rich in vitamin C ensures optimal iron absorption.
Traditional medicine list cardamom as powerful aphrodisiacs that can help overcome erectile dysfunction and impotence. Cardamom oil scent stimulates the mind into clarity, encourages intimacy, removes frigidity and loss of libido.
8. A Remedy For Digestive Problems.
Cardamom has been in the treatment of heartburn, ulcer disease, irritable bowel syndrome, excess gas, constipation, liver problems, and gallbladder, as well as to increase appetite. It belongs to the same family as ginger and functions like ginger to overcome digestive problems. In addition, the essential oil content in cardamom can relieve stomachache and makes cardamom an ideal solution to relieve various digestive problems, such as constipation or dysentery.
To alleviate digestive discomfort, combine five drops of cardamom, five drops of orange, and five drops of ginger essential oils with one fluid ounce of carrier oil. Apply the blend to the abdomen area and massage clockwise. For best results apply a warm wet towel and a hot water bottle over the area. Rest for 15 minutes and feel your tummy relax and heal itself slowly.
Cardamom helps relieve heartburn. To overcome various digestive problems, we can consume cardamom seeds directly or mix it in cooking. We can also make tea out of it.
9. Increases Appetite
The lack of digestive power becomes the primary cause of loss of appetite. Other medical issues take responsibility for the low appetite, consist of hypothyroidism, kidney failure, dementia, bacterial infections, chronic liver disease and so on. Cardamom aroma increases appetite by encouraging the secretion of digestive juices. We can add a little cardamom seed or cardamom pods to our daily tea meals.
10. Cure Cold, Cough, Bronchitis And Sore Throat.
Bronchitis is due to infections by bacteria and viruses. Smoking and the inhalation of noxious fumes and dust can also cause bronchitis. There are two kinds of bronchitis: acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis.
Cardamom relieves cold and flu symptoms. Make cardamom tea by mixing it with hot water. Then, consume it and feel no more headache and cold.
11. Has Detoxification Effect.
Natural Drug To Release Urine ( Diuretic )
One of the reasons why cardamom is the effective neutralizing of toxins is its diuretic abilities. These cardamom properties help cleanse the digestive tract, bladder, and kidneys by disposing of body waste, salt, excess water, toxins, and eradicate infections. The spices help the body in neutralizing and dispose of toxic waste of the body through the kidneys. It helps clean out the urinary tract, bladder, and kidneys. It removes waste, salt, excess water, toxins, and combats infections.
12. Overcome Bad Breath.
In India, many are accustomed to chewing cardamom after eating or whenever they feel the need to refresh the breath. Indeed, cardamom is one of the most effective solutions to overcome halitosis (bad breath). Even there is a cardamom chewing gum that is able to eliminate the most unpleasant bad breath though.
13. Fights Stress And Depression – As Aromatherapy
Cardamom oil can be added to water for bathing baths as aromatherapy. Aromatherapy cardamom can help us fight depression or just reduce stress. To get similar benefits, we can also make tea out of powdered cardamom seeds. Learn more about the benefits of aromatherapy massage here.
In recent years, scientists have been studying cardamom oil to know the efficacy of its therapy which for centuries has been used to overcome depression or unusual feelings. Cardamom essential oil helps us overcome stress and depression. This further confirms the properties of cardamom are quite unusual for health.
14. Prevent Infections
The various essential oils in cardamom inhibit the growth of bacteria, viruses, mold, and fungus. In laboratories, ginger, turmeric, and cardamom have proven effective in slowing the growth of numerous bacteria. In test-tube trials cardamom even impaired herpes viruses.
Provide cardamom in our kitchen for daily use. We can add it to various soups, drink as a tea or add it to cake to get many benefits of cardamom for health.