What is Cardamom?
Cardamom to belongs to the family of Zingiberaceae and its scientific name is Elettaria cardamomum. There are two main types or subspecies of cardamom. Their scientific names are Elettaria, a green or true cardamom, and Amomum, which stands for black, white, or red cardamom.
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 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, phosphorus, and zinc.
The health benefits of cardamom include gastrointestinal protection, cholesterol control, control of cancer, relief from cardiovascular issues, and improvement of blood circulation in the body. Cardamom possesses aphrodisiac properties and is also used as a cure for impotence, erectile dysfunction and premature.
History of Cardamom
Cardamom is considered to be one of the world’s oldest spices. The use of this spice dates back at least 4000 years. Ancient Egyptians used Cardamom for many medicinal purposes, as part of rituals and even for embalming. They chewed cardamom pods as a way to help keep their breath minty and to help clean their teeth. The Greeks and Romans used Cardamom for its pungent aroma. It was a main ingredient in perfumes and aromatic oils.
Vikings first discovered this spice during their travels and brought it back to Scandinavia. Cardamom originally came from wild plants located in the Western Ghats in Southern India. The plants grew in such abundance in this region that this area became known as Cardamom Hills. During the 19th century, plantations of cardamom were set up by British colonists and this is where much of the green and black cardamom that we use still comes from today. Guatemala is the biggest commercial producer of cardamom. In some parts of Guatemala, it is considered even more valuable than coffee as a crop.
Nutrition Value of Cardamom
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National 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 well. These include niacin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamine, vitamin A, vitamin C, sodium, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.
Nutrition Health Benefits of Cardamom
Amount Per 100 grams
- Calories 311
- Total Fat 7 g – 10% RDA
- Cholesterol 0 mg
- Sodium 18 mg
- Potassium 1,119 mg – 31% RDA
- Total Carbohydrate 68 g – 22% RDA
- Dietary fiber 28 g – 112% RDA
- Vitamin C 35% RDA
- Calcium 38% RDA
- Iron 77% RDA
- Vitamin B-6 10% RDA
- Magnesium 57% RDA
Amazing Health Benefits of Cardamom
1. Aids in Digestion
Cardamom has a strong aroma that helps activate our taste and sensory elements. This enables the secretion of enzymes effective for digestion. The fiber content bulks up the stool and aids in pelvic movement and helps prevent and cure indigestion, gas and constipation.
2. Oral Health
Cardamom is a natural breath freshener due to its floral and sweet aroma. Cineole present in cardamom has antimicrobial properties that eliminate pathogenic oral bacteria and prevent the formation and growth of cavities. It can also kill the odor-causing bacteria in the mouth and improve bad breath.
3. Heart Health
The antioxidants in cardamom help neutralise free radicals that may cause heart disease. The fiber content help lower cholestrol and enhance heart health. It also helps lower blood pressure which is beneficial to the heart. Black cardamom seems to work much better than its green cousin when it comes to heart health. One study conducted on patients with ischemic heart disease had their plasma lipid profiles and antioxidant status and fibrinolytic activity (a process that prevents blood clots from growing and causing problems) getting better post the ingestion of black cardamom.
4. Reduces Cancer Risk
The antioxidants in cardamom seeks and neutralises free radicals that may cause healthy cells to become cancerous. Cardamom also decreases general inflammation, which inhibits the growth of cancer cells and encourages their death. The spice had also shown desirable effects on chemically induced colorectal cancer in mice.
5. Fights Asthma
Cardamom plays a role in fighting asthma symptoms like wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest. The spice makes breathing easier by enhancing blood circulation within the lungs. It also fights related inflammation by soothing the mucus membranes.
6. Aids in Weight Management
Cardamom helps improve digestin and metabolism. It can also lower your total cholesterol level without significantly affecting your HDL (good cholesterol) levels. High total cholesterol is often an indicator of inflammation in the body, and inflammation increases the risk of obesity. Obese people also often have visceral fat deposition around their abdominal organs caused, more often than not, by a diet rich in refined carbs and trans-fats. In an animal study, rats that were fed a high-carb, high-fat diet turned obese. They were then given cardamom powder as a supplement. As a result, there was a reduction in total cholesterol level and fat deposition. By increasing the natural antioxidant levels in the body, cardamom could also lower the oxidation triggered by the high-carb, high-fat diet.14 Black cardamom is more potent in improving metabolism and reducing obesity than the green variety.
7. Skin Care
Cardamom contains vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant. It improves blood circulation throughout the body. Also, the many layers of phytonutrients in the spice can improve blood circulation – which invariably enhances skin health. The antibacterial property of cardamom helps prevent and treat acne.
8. Increases Appetite
Cardamom stimulate the appetite by enhancing the production of saliva and gastric juices. Green cardamom, along with fennel and ginger, has been used by ayurvedic practitioners to stimulate appetite in anorexic patients. It also helps manage the symptoms of anorexia such as nausea or vomiting.
9. Prevents Muscle Spasms
Cardamom has antispasmodic properties and might hence be used to fight hiccups as well as stomach and intestinal cramps. Other studies state that incorporating cardamom into the diets of epileptic patients might prevent involuntary muscle spasms.
10. Boosts Immunity
Cardamom is rich in antioxidants that fight free radicals generated by external toxins as well as by internal processes and protect your cells from oxidative damage. Cardamom antioxidants can add to your immune power. Cardamom has antiseptic properties, which prevent infections.Both green and black cardamom have also been found to slow down the growth of fungus and their essential oil was found to inhibit a number of disease-causing bacteria.
11. Prevents Colorectal Cancer
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%.
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.
13. Prevents 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 as acidity, flatulence, and stomach cramps. A study conducted by Jamal et al. at the Department of Chemistry, Jamia Hamdard, in New Delhi, India has concluded that the extracted volatile oils from cardamom have shown positive effects on gastrointestinal disorders.
14. 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 its volatile extracts. 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.
15. Anti-spasmodic & Anti-inflammatory Properties
According to Ayurveda, cardamom is good for muscle and joint pain. Muscle spasms are often reported by older people. A sudden contraction of the muscles causes these spasms. When the muscles contract, it can result in a sudden emergence of pain. Researchers Al-Zuhair et al. at the King Saud University in Saudi Arabia performed animal-based research and concluded that cardamom can be used as a controlling measure for muscle spasms. Recent experimental evidence suggests that cardamom possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties as well.
16. Dental Care
Cardamom has been used in Ayurveda and 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 verified the presence of antimicrobial properties in cardamom.
17. Aphrodisiac Properties
Since cardamom gives out a sweet flavor, it was traditionally believed to possess aphrodisiac properties.Not only is cardamom regarded as an aphrodisiac, but it is also believed to possess the cure for impotence and premature ejaculation.
18. Detoxifies the Body
The metabolic processes in our body release toxins and free radicals that have to be nullified and flushed out to remain healthy. Otherwise, these accumulated toxins can cause several diseases, including cancer and premature aging. Cardamom is known to act as a detoxifying agent. The essential oils and biochemicals present in cardamom provide detoxifying effects. A study conducted by Das et al. showed that cardamom was effective against cancer cells.
19. Improves Blood Circulation
In traditional therapies like aromatherapy, cardamom has been used to cure symptoms of asthma and bronchitis by improving blood circulation to the lungs. The essential oil extracted from cardamom has been tested in groups of individuals with stress and it was found that cardamom is effective in promoting blood circulation in the body. The research was undertaken at the Nitte University in Mangalore, India.
20. Treats Nausea, Sore Throats, & Vomiting
Traditionally, cardamom has been used as a remedy for nausea. Cardamom is an effective tonic and stimulant and is also good for calming the sensations of nausea and vomiting. It acts as a good remedy for sore throats too. Cardamom and cinnamon can both be boiled in water and gargled every morning to control painful sore throats.
21. Treating Urinary Disorders
In Ayurveda, cardamom has been used as a remedy for urinary tract diseases and infections such as cystitis, nephritis, and gonorrhea.
Hiccups can be very annoying, especially for children. There are several remedies prescribed in folk medicine and one of the most popular among them is startling a person who is hiccupping. This may or may not work most of the time. However, cardamom is another very effective remedy. Take few pods of cardamom and boil them in water. By drinking this water, one can get rid of hiccups.
How to Buy Cardamom
- Cardamom is available as whole pods and in powdered forms in the market all round the year.
- You can easily find both varieties of cardamom. ‘Elettaria’ pods are small and light green in color, while ‘Amomum’ pods are larger and dark brown.
- To check the freshness of the pods, scratch the pod with your fingertip. In case it gives off a sweet aroma, the pod has passed the test.
- Do not buy pods that are light in color and have stains, spots or molds.
Selection And Storage Of Cardamom
Fresh cardamom pods, as well as its powder can be available in the market year around. Both the varieties of cardamom readily sold in the markets. “Elettaria” pods are small and light green, while ‘Amomum” pods are larger and dark brown. Fresh pods should be heavy for their size and give sweet aroma when rubbed with the fingertips. Avoid pods that appear light and that are with surface discoloration or spots, which may feature mold (fungal infection).
Medicinal use Of Cardamom
The therapeutic properties of cardamom oil have found application in many traditional medicines as an antiseptic and local anesthetic, and antioxidant, besides playing health promoting and disease preventing roles.
Culinary uses Of Cardamom
In general, cardamom seeds are one of the most sought-after ingredients in sweet and dessert preparations. The pod is split open to expose its underlying seeds either with fingers or using a small knife. The seeds are then crushed (powdered) using a pestle/mortar or hand-mill just before their addition to cooking. Often, whole pods preferred in savory dishes, which give a further punch to the recipe since their peel too contains significant amounts of precious essential oils.
Here are some preparation tips:
- This delicate spice employed as a flavoring agent in foods, soups and refreshing drinks.
- The pods have been in use in the preparation of sweet dishes in many Asian countries. Elaichi-pista (cardamom and pistachio) kulfi is a famous summer dessert in India, Pakistan, and Iran. Elaichi kheer is another favorite rice pudding with added pistachio and raisins in these regions.
- It is used as a flavoring base for the preparation of tea, coffee, and cold beverages.
- Black cardamom (badi elaichi) preferred mostly in savory dishes; to prepare rice pilaf, meat stews, and lentil curry in many parts of Nepal, India, and Pakistan.
Cardamom Simple Recipe
An Easy Cardamom Simple Syrup Recipe for Your Drinks
Cardamom simple syrup is a very interesting flavor and it is the quickest way to add the spice to your favorite beverages. From coffee and tea sweeteners to interesting cocktails, this is a flavored syrup you will want in your kitchen and bar.
Making your own simple syrup is extremely easy and for this recipe, we are simply adding a little cardamom for flavor. It is just one example of spiced syrups that you can make at home and it adds a sweet, savory, and spicy aspect to any drink you pour it in.
The cardamom syrup was designed as a featured ingredient in Charbay’s Moroccan Cocktail in which it is paired with pomegranate vodka and juice. Cardamom is also commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine and is an essential ingredient for Turkish coffee, so adding this syrup to your morning coffee is a fantastic idea.
Tip: The flavor intensity will vary depending on whether you are using cardamom seeds or pods (either will work). Taste your syrup each day until it reaches your desired level of flavor and continue the infusion if needed.
If you would like to build on the flavor of this syrup, consider adding a complementary flavor while boiling. Add a splash of fresh orange or lemon juice or a teaspoon vanilla extract.
Cinnamon and cloves are also a good match, though the three days may be too much for those two spices. Instead, use a whole cinnamon stick or 1 tablespoon of whole cloves (or both) and remove those before you begin the three-day infusion of the cardamom. They should be easy to separate out from the cardamom and the spice flavor will be perfectly balanced.
Using Your Cardamom Simple Syrup
You may not realize it right now, but you will soon find out just how versatile your new cardamom syrup is. Try using your first batch in a variety of beverages so you can get a feel for its full potential. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Coffee Sweetener – Cardamom is often brewed directly with coffee beans, so it’s only natural that you can use your cardamom syrup to sweeten a cup of coffee. You will be amazed at how well this works.
- Sweeten Masala Chai and Other Teas – Cardamom is a key spice in masala chai and you can enhance that flavor and bring sweetness into the tea with a dash of cardamom syrup. It works particularly well with some of those just-add-water chais that leave a little to be desired. Use it to sweeten and spice up other teas as well.
- Lemonade – Another astonishing flavor combination can be found in cardamom and lemonade. Try substituting one-third of the simple syrup in homemade lemonade with cardamom simple syrup. Your spiced lemonade can be enjoyed as is or mixed into a variety of cocktails and mocktails.
- Apple Martinis – Apple and cardamom is another fantastic pairing, and you can simply add a splash of this syrup to your favorite apple martini recipe (as long as it is not one of the sour appletinis). It’s best with the recipes that use apple cider or juice.
- Flavored Whipped Cream – Add a splash of cardamom syrup to whipped cream and blend it with your kitchen mixer. Use this spiced cream to top off coffee and hot chocolate drinks.
- Plums, Pears, and Apricots – These three fruits are also nice with a little cardamom spice. Add a little of your syrup to cocktails that feature any of these flavors and enjoy!
More Spiced Simple Syrups
It’s always fun to get sweet and spice from a single ingredient and cardamom is not the only spice you will want to use for homemade syrup. Explore these syrups and enjoy the cocktails they were created for. After one drink, you’ll have plenty of ideas for incorporating each into more of your drinks.
- Moroccan Citrus Syrup – The 5/25 Cocktail is a simple take on the famous Gimlet and the spiced citrus syrup makes it spectacular with a mix of cardamom, orange, grapefruit, and lemon.
- Cranberry Spice Syrup – Brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and clove add a fantastic backdrop for the cranberry-orange syrup used in the Spiced Silver Bells tequila cocktail.
- Black Peppercorn Simple Syrup – Yes, even peppercorns can work in a sweet syrup! The Maker’s In The Market Julep pairs the spice with bourbon, cherry jam, and fresh mint. It’s a brilliant flavor combination.
Cardamom Simple Syrup Recipe for Your Drinks
What You’ll Need
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup whole cardamom
- 2 cups sugar
How to Make It
- Bring the water and cardamom to a boil.
- Stir in the sugar until fully dissolved.
- Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Infuse in the refrigerator for 3 days, then strain out the cardamom.
- Bottle and refrigerate the syrup. It should keep for a few weeks.
For the cardamom simple syrup:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 teaspoons lightly crushed whole cardamom pods
- 2-inch strip orange zest, removed with a vegetable peeler
For the cocktail:
- 1 750-ml bottle prosecco, chilled
- Cardamom syrup (recipe follows)
- Angostura bitters
- Orange twists, for serving
For the cardamom simple syrup:
In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved, then remove from heat. Let syrup cool to room temperature, then strain.
For the cocktail:
Fill each glass with 1 teaspoon cardamom syrup, and add a dash of bitters. Top up with prosecco and serve garnished with an orange twist.
Negative Effects Of Cardamom
1. Allergies Due To Cardamom
If used for prolonged time and in large quantities, cardamom might lead to some unexplained allergic reactions. Skin allergy known as contact dermatitis is a popular type of skin rash developed due to over intake of cardamom. Some people may also experience hives if they are sensitive to cardamom but intake cardamom unknowingly. Again, some of you may be hypersensitive to cardamom. You may also experience a type of respiratory trouble if you consume cardamom excessively. You might witness the following symptoms when have the respiratory allergic reactions due to cardamom.
- Chest or throat tightness
- Uncomfortable feeling
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Respiratory trouble
2. Gallstone Complications Due To Cardamom:
Did you know that excessive consumption of cardamom might lead to gallstone? Yes, some of the recent studies have revealed this thrilling information in a leading journal some days back. It is often found that our digestive system fails to absorb cardamom completely. This results in sedimentation of the same seeds within our bodies. This process eventually leads to growth of gallbladder stones. Further, if you already this problem, you should abstain from having it. Eating cardamom is strictly ‘no’ for the gallbladder stone patients. The gallstone pain increases heavily if you intake excess cardamom by chance. Researches establish that cardamom intake leads to infection and bleeding when a gallstone patient intakes the same.
3. Drug Interactions of Cardamom:
You should consume cardamom consciously if you are following any medicinal course. This is so, because some drugs may interact with cardamom adversely and lead to serious health consequences. If you are negligent to this situation, you might escalate the disorder for which you eating medicines. Many of us are not aware of such interaction and continue having cardamom regularly. The chance of drug interaction is higher in people who consume the same as regular habit without knowing the consequences. Avoid eating this as mouth freshener if you are consuming any of the following types of medicines.
How To Avoid The Cardamom Side Effects
Do not get afraid by the above cardamom seeds side effects. This is still a less harmful herb you can have confidently. However, it is always better to consume any eatable maintaining a limit. Do not ever consume the same excessively. Always consult your physician whether you can eat cardamom when you are suffering from any health disorder.
Use cardamom pods in small amounts. Too much of spices in the food can cause gastrointestinal irritation and stomach ulcers.
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