The health benefits of cardamom include gastrointestinal protection, cholesterol control, control ofcancer, relief from cardiovascular issues, and the improvement of blood circulation in the body. It is useful for curing dental diseases and urinary tract infections such as cystitis, nephritis, and gonorrhea. Cardamom possesses aphrodisiac properties and is also used as a cure for impotency, erectile dysfunction, and premature ejaculation.
Cardamom is a spice that originated in India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Today, it is available in most tropical places in Asia, including India, China, Bhutan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Korea, and Japan. It is regarded as the Queen of Spices and is one of the most expensive spices, ranking third, the first and second being saffronand vanilla, respectively.
It is believed that cultivation of cardamom began in the tropical and humid climate of the Western Ghats in India. In botanical terms, it belongs to the family of Zingibercease and its scientific name is Elettaria cardamomum. There are two main types or subspecies of cardamom. Their scientific names are Elettaria, which is called green or true cardamom, and Amomum, which stands for black, white, or red cardamom.
The Spices Board of India recognizes three varieties of cardamom, which include the Malabar, Mysore and Vazhukka varieties. There is another variety of cardamom, named Njallani, which has become very popular along with the three normal varieties. This variety was developed by a small farmer named Sebastian Joseph from the Idukki district in Kerala.
It is found in the form of a small pod with black seeds inside. Both the seeds and the pod give a pleasant aroma and flavor. Therefore, they are used as flavoring agents in Indian cuisine. Its use is just not just limited to hot and spicy dishes; the seeds are also added to desserts and beverages to complement the sweet flavor. Cardamom tea is a very famous beverage, along with ginger tea, in India.
In India, cardamom was traditionally considered as an herb and was one of the ingredients in Ayurveda (the ancient Indian science of medicine and lifestyle) and traditional Chinese medicine. It was believed to be a remedy for teeth and gum infections, throat problems, congestion of the lungs, pulmonarytuberculosis, inflammation of the eyelids, gastrointestinal disorders, disintegrating kidney, and gall bladder stones, and was also used as an antidote for poisons and venoms.
Nutritional Value of Cardamom
According to the US Department of Agriculture and theNational Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, cardamom (100g) contains energy (300 kcal), carbohydrates (68 g), protein (11 g), dietary fiber (28 g), and no cholesterol (0mg).
Cardamom is rich in various vitamins and micronutrients as wel. These include niacin, pyridoxine,riboflavin, thiamine, vitamin A, vitamin C, sodium, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, manganese,magnesium, phosphorous, and zinc.
Health Benefits of Cardamom
Cardamom is an ideal spice with many health benefits. The most popular and well known health benefits are listed below.
Anti-Carcinogenic Properties: Cancer, particularly colorectal cancer, is one of the leading causes of death around the world. The rising cost of conventional cancer therapy and the subsequent side effects have encouraged researchers to look for alternatives that are sustainable. Studies conducted by Sengupta et al. at Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute in Kolkata have shown that dietary cardamom had a positive result in counteracting colorectal cancer to an extent of 48%.
Good for Cardiovascular Health: Research studies conducted at the Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceuticals at the College of Pharmacy of King Saud University, Saudi Arabia showed that cardamom administration for cardiovascular conditions resulted in a lower heartbeat or controlled rhythm, and control of hypertension.
Control of Cholesterol: The micronutrients found in cardamom can counteract the surge of lipids in the body. In experiments conducted at the Pharmacology and Toxicology Division at Hindustan Antibiotics Limited in Pune, India by Dhuley, hepatic and cardiac antioxidant enzymes from cardamom were administered to mice, which were fed a high-fat diet. The antioxidant enzymes had an influence on the cholesterol levels and helped in significantly controlling them.
Anti-Depressant: Cardamom is also believed to possess anti-depressant properties. Its essential oil is one of the major oils used in aromatherapy. It can be used not only for depression, but also as a cure for various other diseases ranging from stomach disorders to pulmonary diseases.
Treating Urinary Disorders: In Ayurveda, cardamom has been used as a remedy for urinary tract diseases and infections such as cystitis, nephritis, and gonorrhea.
Protection Against Gastrointestinal Diseases: Cardamom has been traditionally used in Ayurveda, Chinese medicine and the Unani system as a remedy for gastrointestinal disorders. The methanolic extract from cardamom is the component that helps in controlling gastrointestinal disorders such asacidity, flatulence, and stomach cramps. Studies conducted by Jamal et al. at the Department of Chemistry, Jamia Hamdard, in New Delhi, India have concluded that the extracted volatile oils from cardamom have shown positive effects on gastrointestinal disorders.
Antimicrobial Properties: For many millennia, cardamom was thought to possess infection-fighting properties. For modern science, it means that cardamom contains antimicrobial properties. This theory was tested at the Van Yüzüncü Yil University by Ağ Aoğlu et al. Experiments were conducted on the volatile extracts of cardamom. It was observed that the oils from cardamom were able to inhibit the growth and spread of some of the very dangerous microbes that regularly cause food poisoning.
Anti-Spasmodic Properties: Muscle spasms are often reported by older people. A sudden contraction of the muscles causes these spasms. When the muscles contract, they can result in a sudden emergence of pain. Researchers Al-Zuhair et al. at the King Saud University in Saudi Arabia have performed animal-based research and concluded that cardamom can be used as a controlling measure for muscle spasms.
Dental Diseases: Cardamom has been used in Ayurveda as well as traditional Chinese medicine for dealing with dental problems for many centuries. After the invention of antibiotics, it was found that these antibiotics produced mixed results, as well as side effects. Some side effects included the inhibition of friendly probiotic bacteria thriving in the intestines. However, the use of spices, on the other hand, is ideal because they inhibit only infectious microbes, not the probiotic bacteria. A study conducted by Isao Kubo, Masaki Himejima, and Hisae Muroi at the Division of Entomology and Parasitology at the University of California has verified the presence of antimicrobial properties in cardamom.