Popularly known as “Elaichi” in Hindi, “Aelakka” in Malayalam, “Elakkai” in Tamil, “Yelakulu” in Telugu, “Yalakki” in Kannada, “Ilaychi” in Gujarati, “Hr̥daya rōga” in Nepali and “Huba alhal” in Arabic – cardamom is a spice made from the seeds of several plants belonging to the family Zingiberaceae.
The spice is native to India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Indonesia. Cardamom pods are small (that’s how they are recognized), triangular in cross-section, and shaped as spindles. Called the Queen of Spices, cardamom is the world’s third most expensive spice – surpassed only by saffron and vanilla. And not just that – this spice comes in different types as well.
Green cardamom, also known as true cardamom, is the commonest variety.
- It is used to flavor both sweet and savory dishes.
- It is also added to rich curries and milk-based preparations for its fragrance.
- Tea and coffee are also spiced with cardamom.
According to an Indian study, cardamom can be used in cuisines not just for flavor, but also for enhancing digestion. The spice also stimulates metabolism, given its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Cardamom is also known to stimulate the secretion of bile acid in the stomach, further aiding in digestion and proper fat metabolism. The spice also prevents other gastrointestinal ailments like acid reflux, heartburn, diarrhea, etc.
Its antioxidant properties can promote heart health. Cardamom also contains fiber, the nutrient that can help lower cholesterol levels and enhance heart health. The spice also can lower blood pressure levels – and this benefits the heart. Simply have a concoction of a teaspoon of coriander and a pinch of cardamom along with a cup of freshly squeezed peach juice. The spice also can lower blood pressure levels – and this benefits the heart. Simply have a concoction of a teaspoon of coriander and a pinch of cardamom along with a cup of freshly squeezed peach juice. 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. As per one Saudi Arabian study, administration of cardamom powder had reduced the occurrence of tumors. Cardamom also decreases general inflammation, which inhibits the growth of cancer cells and encourages their death. Another Saudi Arabian study states that cardamom has the potential to treat forestomach cancer.
The spice had also shown desirable effects on chemically induced colorectal cancer in mice. Cardamom has diuretic properties that can benefit cases of hypertension, heart failure, and epilepsy. These diuretic properties of cardamom also aid in detoxification. According to a health report, cardamom can indeed help people cope with depression. Just powder a few seeds of cardamom and boil them in water along with your everyday tea. Take the tea regularly for better results. 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. Another report says that green cardamom can be used to treat asthma, bronchitis, and numerous other respiratory issues. Cardamom is extremely rich in manganese – a mineral that can lower the risk of diabetes.
However, a lot more research is required in this aspect. Cardamom possesses antimicrobial properties that enhance oral health. According to the European Journal of General Dentistry, cardamom can protect against oral pathogens like Streptococci mutans. The pungent taste of cardamom even stimulates the salivary flow – and this can help prevent dental caries. Cardamom can also work well in treating bad breath. Especially when you take a mixture of spices, including the seeds of anise, cardamom, and fennel – bad breath wouldn’t be a problem anymore One Polish study emphasizes on the use of cardamom for treating a lack of appetite . Even cardamom oil can be used as an appetite stimulant. Some reports say that cardamom can also treat impotence. Cardamom has muscle-relaxing properties, and these can help relieve hiccups. All you need to do is add a teaspoon of cardamom powder to hot water. Let it steep for about 15 minutes. Strain and consume slowly. A mixture of cardamom, cinnamon, and black pepper can work wonders for treating a sore throat. While cardamom soothes the sore throat and reduces irritation, cinnamon offers antibacterial protection. And black pepper improves the bioavailability of the two ingredients. You can take 1 gram each of cardamom and cinnamon powders, 125 mg of black pepper, along with 1 teaspoon of honey. Mix all ingredients and lick the mixture thrice a day.
Cardamom also has been found to reduce nausea and prevent vomiting. In one study, test subjects who were given cardamom powder showed less frequency and duration of nausea and less frequency of vomiting. According to the Central Food Technological Research Institute in India, cardamom contains several components that relieve blood clots. But yes, adequate research is lacking in this aspect. One of the benefits of cardamom is that it can give you fair skin. Cardamom essential oil helps in removing blemishes, thus giving you a fairer complexion. You can either buy skin care products containing cardamom or its essential oil. Or you can simply mix cardamom powder with honey and apply it as a face mask. 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. Cardamom, especially the black variety, has antibacterial properties. Applying a cardamom and honey mask (a mixture of cardamom powder and honey) to the affected area can give relief. Cardamom is often used in cosmetics to impart fragrance. Due to its distinct spicy, sweet scent, both cardamom and cardamom oil are used in perfumes, soaps, body washes, powders, and other cosmetics. Oriental style perfumes and other scented products often use cardamom as an ingredient in addition to other essential oils. Cardamom can be used in skin care products for antiseptic and anti-inflammatory purposes to calm and soothe the skin, thanks to its therapeutic effects. When added to perfumes, it can stimulate the senses.
Facial soaps use cardamom to impart a warming sensation to the skin.These cosmetics using cardamom for therapeutic reasons are known as aromatherapy products. The strong scent of cardamom can ward off unpleasant odors. This makes it a great addition to cosmetic products, such as toners, that serve a specific function but smell unappealing due to the inclusion of certain ingredients. Cardamom is added to these products to mask the unpleasant scent while retaining the benefit of the cosmetic. Cardamom essential oil is often added to cosmetics that are applied to the lips (such as lip balms) to impart the taste of the oil and make the lips smooth. You can simply apply the oil to your skin before you go to bed and wash it off in the morning. Cardamom can contribute to improved hair growth and the treatment of certain scalp issues. The antioxidant properties of cardamom, and especially the black type, nourish your scalp and improve its health. The spice also nourishes the hair follicles and enhances hair strength. You can wash your hair with cardamom water (mix the powder with water and use before shampoo) to achieve the desired results. This is a given. Improved scalp health most often means stronger and better-looking hair. The spice strengthens your hair roots and offers shine and luster to your hair.