Cardamom is one among the most expensive spices in the world (out priced only by vanilla and saffron) and is used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Botanically, it belongs to the family of Zingiberaceae and it is the seed pods of these plants that constitute the spice called cardamom. There are mainly two types of cardamom – those with green seed pods (belong to the genus Elettaria) and those with dark brown seed pods (genus Amomum).
The pod is split open to expose underlying seeds either with fingers or small knife. The seeds are then crushed (powdered) using a hand mill just before their use in cooking. However, whole pods are preferred in savory dishes, which give a further punch to the recipe since their peel contains certain amounts of valuable essential oils. This flavored and aromatic herb is often used as herbal supplement.
Native to certain parts of India, the spice has been popular since 5000 years and referred as “queen of spices”. The use of this spice is mentioned in the Vedic texts and the ancient Ayurveda inscriptions of India. Even the ancient Greeks, Romans and Arabs had used this spice for its aphrodisiac qualities and other health benefits.
TOP 26 HEALTH BENEFITS OF CARDAMOM:
- Carminative: Cardamom, like ginger, helps counteract digestive problems. Chew it after meals to combat nausea, acidity, bloating, gas, heartburn, loss of appetite and constipation.
- Diuretic: Promotes the nephrons to remove waste products like uric acid, urea, amino acid, creatinine, salt, excess water and other wastes from the urinary tract, bladder and kidneys.
- Antispasmodic: Helps dispel feeling of vomiting or nausea, hiccups and relief from other involuntary muscle spasms, like stomach and intestinal cramps.
- Aphrodisiac: Traditional medicine lists cardamom as a powerful aphrodisiac that can help with erectile dysfunction and impotence.
- Immune Booster: Cardamom, being a rich source of Vitamin C, helps in boosting your immune system, thereby preventing you from a number of microbial infections.
- Anti-inflammatory: Has inherent properties that cure cold, fever, liver problems, pain, arthritis, bronchitis, and limit pain and swelling especially in mucus membranes, the mouth, and throat.
- Potent stimulant: When added to perfumes, it can stimulate various physiological systems, which in turn helps improve the functionality of all body processes.
- Antioxidants reservoir: Many of the vitamins, phytonutrients, and essential oils in cardamom act as antioxidants, cleaning up free radicals and resisting cellular aging.
- Expectorant: This pungent spice clears the bronchi and lungs of mucus, thereby cleaning the respiratory tract. Helps prevent and relieve symptoms of cold, cough, flu and bronchitis.
- Anti-septic: Prevents wounds from septic infections and also assists in the healing of wounds.
- Homeostasis agent: Being a rich source of vitamins and minerals, helps maintain homeostasis or a steady state in the body, by sustaining the mechanisms at the cellular and tissue levels.
- Anti coagulant: Cardamom prevents dangerous blood clots by preventing platelet aggregation and the sticking to the artery walls.
- Fights Anemia: Copper, iron and essential vitamins like riboflavin, vitamin C and niacin, present in cardamom, are extremely important for the production of red blood cells, for cellular metabolism and prevent anemia.
- Fights Pathogens– The volatile essential oils in cardamom inhibit the growth of viruses, bacteria, fungus, and mold.
- Aroma therapy: A massage with cardamom essential oil helps relieve mental strain, emotional stress and provide instant relief from joint and muscular pain.
- Appetizer: Powdered seeds of cardamom spice up your food. Alternatively, you can also chew one or two cloves of cardamom. It will help in increase your appetite.
- Rich source of fiber: High fiber content stimulates bowel movements, thereby protecting you from constipation and aids smooth discharge of toxins.
- Breath freshener: Usually served as a breath freshener after meals in the Middle East and Indian subcontinent and in the treatment of Halitosis.
- Oral Care: Not only does it cure bad breath, cardamom is used for treatment of ulcers and infections of the mouth and throat.
- Cancer inhibitor: Animal studies are showing promise that cardamom protects against, inhibits growth, and even kills some cancers.
- Blood Pressure regulator: As a diuretic and fiber-rich spice, cardamom significantly lowers elevated blood pressure levels.
- Asthma Cure: Cardamom is considered to be highly beneficial for asthma patients. It also acts as a natural remedy for whooping cough and bronchitis.
- Fair Skin: Cardamom essential oil helps in removing blemishes, thus giving you a fairer complexion.
- Skin Allergy Treatment: Black cardamom, because of it anti-bacterial properties, is used as an antiseptic to treat skin allergies.
- Lip Care: Cardamom essential oil can be found in lip balms to impart the taste of the oil and make them smooth.
- Scalp Nourisher: Black cardamoms, by virtue of their anti-oxidative properties, provide nourishment to the scalp and hair follicles and its anti-bacterial properties prevent the scalp from infections and irritation.
Side Effects and Precautions:
- Allergies: Skin allergy known as contact dermatitis is a popular type of skin rash developed due to over intake of cardamom. You may also experience respiratory allergic reactions like chest or throat tightness, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
- Gallstones: Often our digestive system fails to absorb cardamom completely which results in sedimentation of the seeds within our bodies. This process eventually leads to growth of gallbladder stones. Eating cardamom is strictly ‘no’ for the gallbladder stone patients and can lead to infection and bleeding and trigger gallstone colic (spasmodic pain).
- Drug Interactions: Avoid eating this as mouth freshener if you are any medications like HIV drugs, anticoagulants, liver medicines, antidepressants, aspirin, anti-platelet drugs, gallstone medicines, and irritable bowel syndrome medicines.