This amazing spice is found to be the third most expensive spice in the world and virtually unheard of in the United States, but these little pods possess many amazing health boosting benefits and there are several studies regarding its effects on blood pressure and skin cancer.
Native to the Middle East, North Africa, and Scandinavia, cardamom comes in a small pod from the Zingiberaceae family of plants. It has a strong, unique, yet spicy-sweet flavor that brings a strange satisfaction to our taste buds. There are three varieties to enjoy: green, black, and Madagascar. (1,2)
Cardamom for general health
During the ancient times, cardamom was used as medicine to treat various ailments such as sore throats, teeth and gum infections, congestion, tuberculosis, spider bites, and even issues with the stomach, kidney, and lungs. Furthermore, in lab studies, cardamom has successfully treated urinary tract infections and gonorrhea. (2,3)
In modern medicine, when used raw, the volatile elements within cardamom have been found to help with poor digestion, improve metabolism, improve blood circulation, and even alleviate depression! (2,3) Used as an antidepressant and in aromatherapy, this spice goes a long ways and it doesn’t end here!
Studies on skin & colon cancer, and hypertension
The many layers of phytonutrients contained in cardamom even offer cancer protection. In fact, one study showed that cardamom “has a potential to become a pivotal chemopreventive agent to prevent papillomagenesis on the skin.” (4)
In several other in-vitro studies, cardamom has been found to contain high antioxidant phenolics and flavonoids, which enhances enzyme activities as well as hinder colon cancer cell growth and proliferation. In addition, the eugenol compound was found to inhibit tobacco-induced mutagenicity. (2,5)
Regularly ingesting cardamom powder was proven to significantly improve individuals with stage-1 hypertension. In one study, individuals taking 3 grams of cardamom powder for 3 months experienced a decrease systolic, diastolic, and mean blood pressure, while also increasing fibrinolytic (blood clot-inhibiting) activity. At the end of three months, total antioxidant levels increased by 90% without any side effects! (6)
A little goes a long ways!
The manganese content in cardamom contains a whopping 80% of the recommended daily value at a single tablespoon serving. No other vitamin or mineral ingredient comes even close in this spice. (2)
When using cardamom, the optimal choice is to purchase cardamom while they’re still intact in its pods for it to exhibit a stronger, distinct flavor. A recipe that calls for 10 pods is equivalent to 1 1/2 grounded teaspoons.
Keep in mind that if you purchase cardamom seeds or powders, it’s not as strong as purchasing them in pods (and grinding them yourself). This spice pairs well with chicken, coffee, curries, duck, lentils, meat, oranges, peas, rice, or squash. (1) I’ve found the best way to incorporate it into your diet daily is to add it to a chai tea or blend a teaspoon into a smoothie!
Or you can purchaseflavor to eat from the spoon or mix into sauces to create amazing meals. Looks like it’s Indian for dinner tonight!
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Image source: flic.kr
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