Cardamom comes from the Zingiberaceae family and has a unique strong camphor-like aroma and has a sweet yet spicy flavor. It is one of the most common spices seen in an Indian household is ‘Elaichi’ or cardamom.
Ayurvedic texts describe two types of Cardamom namely suksma (small cardamom); “true cardamom”, and brihat (big cardamom). While cardamom seeds are commonly used as spices they are also used as medicine.
Not only does Cardamom add a sweet unique flavor to your dishes, it adds a lot more – health wise. According to the US Department of Agriculture and the National Database for Standard Reference, cardamom is rich in various vitamins and micronutrients as well.
These include niacin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamine, vitamin A, vitamin C, sodium, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, and zinc. The seeds of the cardamom also contain volatile oil composed of acetic and formic acids. In fact, the volatile oil, which makes up roughly 5 % of the seed’s mass, has aromatic and medicinal properties, and it is what makes cardamom so valuable. Let us now discuss other reasons why elaichi scores high in the list of healthy spices.
Taste: pungent and sweet
Post-digestive effect: sweet
Qualities: light, dry
Health Benefits Of Cardamom
Cardamom increases appetite and stimulate digestion. Cardamom reduces the air and water elements and therefore helps to reduce bloating, borborygmus, flatulence, and indigestion. From an Ayurvedic perspective, we can say that cardamom stimulates the digestive fire (“agni”) while helping to clear excess mucous from the stomach (“kledaka kapha”) without aggravating pitta.
Research conducted at the Department of Pharmacology at King Saud University, revealed beneficial effects of cardamom on cardiovascular health. The results suggested the use of cardamom may have an influence on lowering both heart rate and heart rhythm and helping to lower blood pressure. Similarly, research has also demonstrated that cardamom has antioxidant enzymatic activity helping to regulate cholesterol levels.
Cardamom has also long been used as a remedy for asthma and other respiratory conditions. A study has also shown that the crude extracts of cardamom were effective enough to help relieve broncho-constriction displayed in lab animals.
Cancer, more specifically, colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Research reveals that dietary cardamom may have a beneficial role in counteracting colorectal cancer, up to 48%.
Breath Freshener & Oral Care
The aromatic seeds and spicy-flowery qualities of cardamom makes for an excellent breath sweetener. Cardamom is commonly used as a breath freshener by simply chewing a few seeds for a brief period. Similarly, cardamom is also used to fight tooth decay and gum disease. It can also be used to help soothe a sore throat and relieve hoarseness of voice.
Cardamom is a well known anti-depressant. The best way to consume cardamom would be by making cardamom tea. To make this tea, boil one cup of water, and add sugar and grinded seeds of cardamom to it. Boil for some more time and then remove from the heat. Drinking this tea is a great way to improve the mood of person having depression. Cardamom oils can be added to baths as a form of aromatherapy for similar benefits.
Cardamom is also used commonly throughout South Asia for soothing a variety of kidney, bladder, and urinary conditions such as nephritis, burning or painful urination (“mutrakrcchra”), and frequent urge to urinate. Despite the relief from uncomfortable urinary symptoms, cardamom should never be considered a cure to more urgent underlying conditions; i.e. disease.
A nightly dose of powdered cardamom seeds boiled in milk sweetened with honey is traditionally considered useful in sexual dysfunctions such as impotency and premature ejaculation. Use with caution – as excessive use of cardamom naturally may have adverse effects.