Move over turmeric, there’s a new old spice in town! New old because cardamom has been around for thousands of years, used in India, but also because it’s becoming more and more famous and rightfully so. Read on to find out the benefits of cardamom and why you should feel very much inclined to use it.
We’ve just gotten used to sprinkling turmeric on top of almost everything, and it’s time to get readjusted some more! Because, as science and traditional Indian medicine tell us, the benefits of cardamom are plenty and important. Now this spice has pretty potent healing powers, which India has known about for thousands of years since they call it the Queen of Spices.
The price point is also 'spicy' because cardamom is one of the most expensive spices in the world, rated third after saffron and vanilla. Yes, it’s on the expensive side, but you only need a sprinkle to enjoy the benefits and also to give a sweet and spicy flavor to whatever you want.
There are two big varieties of cardamom: green and black. Both of them come from the ginger family of plants, but the green kind is the more popular one, for kitchen and for medicinal purposes. Cardamom is rich in plenty of vitamins and minerals, like sodium, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, vitamins A, and C.
6 benefits of cardamom you need to know about
1. Fights inflammation
Green cardamom is loaded with antioxidants, you know them, those structures that help a body fight free radicals and by doing so they lower the rate of inflammation. These antioxidants help boost your immune system and according to some studies, cardamom helps inhibit the growth of tumors and in particular the growth of non-melanoma skin cancer.
2. Helps you digest
Nausea and stomachaches can be ameliorated by the ingestion of cardamom. Also, this amazing spice helps balance your digestion. The oils in it help control stomach cramps, acid reflux, and gas. Not to mention that more serious issues like ulcers and excess acids are alleviated, according to Indian research conducted on mice.
3. Lowers blood pressure
A recent study showed that participants who took cardamom experienced a lowering of their blood pressure. Another study on cardiovascular conditions administrated cardamom to participants. This resulted in a lower heartbeat and a more controlled rhythm of the heart.
This is still subject to research, but cardamom seems to have anti-depressant properties. Which brings cardamom even closer to turmeric, since both fight off this disease of the century. Cardamom oil has been used for many years in aromatherapy, for fighting depressive states of mind.
5. It kills bad breath
Cardamom is rich in cineole, which contains an antiseptic substance. It kills the bacteria that leads to bad breath. Cardamom has also been chewed by people who were suffering from toothaches. The essential oils in cardamom also help fight the bacteria that can lead to tooth and gum decay.
6. Anti-spasmodic properties
Ayurveda uses cardamom for muscle and joint pain. This belief was replicated by a study conducted in Saudi Arabia on animals. The research concluded that this spice can be used as a measure for controlling muscle spasms.
How to use cardamom
Now that you know the main health benefits of cardamom, let's find out how you to cook with it. Cardamom can be found either ground or in the form of whole pods. The ground one doesn’t have a very strong flavor because it loses its essential oils during the process when seeds are ground. You can toast the pods in a dry skillet, let them cool off and remove the seeds from the pods. After that, you can grind the seeds yourself in a mortar and pestle and use them immediately in your cooking so you can use the most intense flavor.
You can use a pinch of cardamom in your morning cup of coffee – and turn it into a traditional Turkish coffee. The flavor is to die for! But if you’re a tea person, you have the option of making your own tea from the cardamom pods. Just combine them with some cinnamon and black or green tea.
Cardamom is just begging to be sprinkled on your oats in the morning or added to spicy dishes like basmati rice or curries. But an interesting use is in your baking. You can add a sprinkle to your cake, waffle, pancake or bread mix!