Did you know that cardamom is a seed pod? The aromatic scent of this spice is reason enough of its powerful health benefits, but it goes beyond its gastroprotective and bad-breath eliminating properties.
The most common types of cardamom are black and green. Most recipes include only green cardamom, but that’s about to change right now. Once you know the benefits of both, you’d want more of it. Rich in phytonutrients, cardamom helps increase fat metabolism and brain function. It’s one of the most effective spices for normalizing blood pressure and blood sugar levels to prevent heart diseases, diabetes, and obesity.
Having said that, you will find cardamom at the very cusp of providing immediate relief from serious health concerns such as the common cold, inflammation, asthma, and cavity pain.
1. Cardamom Helps Fight Free Radical Damage
Cardamom is a promising spice that destroys oxidative stress caused by free radical damage. The antioxidant properties of cardamom is linked with free radical scavenging activities.
An increased consumption of cardamom can reduce your tendency of getting affected by free radical-induced diseases such as bronchitis, gastrointestinal diseases, and other conditions. It had been observed that an increase in cardamom is associated with an increase in metabolism due to the inhibition of protein oxidation and lipid peroxidation.
The results showed a significant decrease in oxidation in rats due to cardamom’s high polyphenol, flavonoid, and terpenoid capacity. (1)
Key Takeaway: Recent studies claim that cardamom offers plenty antioxidant properties to fight free radical damage in the body. Due to its high flavonoid and polyphenol content, cardamom balances GSH levels and inhibits proliferation of oxidation of both lipid and protein in the blood.
2. The Nutrients Present In Cardamom Aid Weight Loss
A proper diet and physical exercise are the two most important agents of weight loss. Thousands of studies have been conducted to prove the effectiveness of a healthy diet in humans. Having said that, cardamom is one such spice that aids weight loss and weight management.
Weight gain is a common phenomenon amongst youngsters and adults. But you can curb your cravings and increase fat metabolism with the help of cardamom extracts. The powerful nutrients in cardamom, such as melatonin, helps increase the burning process of fats in the body.
Melatonin increases stimulation of “beige fat” which is an important fat cell in weight loss. It helps burn calories in the white adipose tissues in the body. This leads to faster weight loss in unhealthy people. (2)
Another study showed that melatonin helps control weight gain in obese patients. This is due to its anti-diabetic and blood pressure-enhancing properties. The study was conducted on young obese rats with the results proving that melatonin reduces cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and improves lipid profiles. All of these factors play an important role in weight loss in most humans. (3)
Key Takeaway: These aromatic pods acts as natural weight loss supplements for obese patients. It also reduces symptoms of heart disease such as high blood pressure, abnormal lipid profiles, and high cholesterol levels in patients most likely to gain weight or become obese.
3. Cardamom Reduces Stress-Induced Cognitive Impairment
Cardamom helps reduce brain damage linked with stress. Multiple studies have shown that cardamom extracts can be used as a stress-reducing agent to reverse or prevent cognitive impairment in adults.
Cardamom contains high amounts of thiamine and vitamin C which play a major role in enhancing neurodevelopment and brain function. A study focusing on the relationship between thiamine consumption and brain damage showed that thiamine reduces oxidative stress and curbs neurotransmitter-related abnormalities. (4)
Oxidative stress injury can directly have a major influence on the hippocampus or cortex region of the brain. This can suppress learning abilities, memory, communication skills, and so forth.
In one study, thiamine normalized brain levels in stress-induced mice, hence decreasing oxidative damage in the brain cells and increasing energy metabolism for faster cognitive function. (5)
Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant present in cardamom, reduces the serious effects of stress on the body. It eliminates the way the body responds to stress which could enhance the “flight or fight” response and strengthen our immune system. (6)
Key Takeaway: Multiple studies prove that cardamom contains powerful anti-stress compounds such as thiamine and vitamin C. It is key to maintaining brain health by reducing oxidative stress injuries in brain cells.
4. Cardamom Plays A Major Role In Cancer Prevention
Cardamom, being an aromatic spice, plays a role in destroying cancer cells and suppressing tumor growth. Black cardamom is known for its free radical scavenging abilities. Hence, it also plays a hand in inhibiting chemical carcinogenesis in the body.
Cardamom oil can prove to be a serious agent against the proliferation of cancer cells due to its high phenolic capacity. Due to the presence of highly-reactive substances, cardamom increases the detoxification process in the body. It also contributes to reducing colon cancer by decreasing azoxymethane levels in the colon. (7)
Cardamom is a major source of essential oils, known for their immune-enhancing properties. These essential oils also work as anti-cancer agents to reduce apoptosis in the body. They restrict cell cycle arrest and regulate DNA repair to fight unhealthy cells faster than traditional methods. (8)
The powerful enzymes present in such essential oils help ward off infections and inflammatory reactions associated with cancer. It also plays a hand at reducing inflammation caused by lots of lifestyle and genetic-related factors such as smoking, tobacco use, alcohol, etc.
Key Takeaway: Cardamom not only helps destroy cancer cells in the body, but it also helps neutralize symptoms that could cause cancer in the future. Lots of factors such as smoking, pollution, exposure to chemicals, alcohol, high-salty diets, etc. can cause different types of cancer.
5. The Essential Oils In Cardamom Have Powerful Therapeutic Properties
Cardamom consists of essential oils that, once extracted, can aid serious health concerns in a positive manner. The science behind their therapeutic properties show that it positively affects a person’s sleeping habit.
Inhalation of essential oils can have a drastic influence on sleep. So if you’re having difficulty sleeping at night, or you’re restless even while sleeping, you can have cardamom essential oil by your side to help alleviate that discomfort.
One study on multiple controlled trial proved that essential oils have a powerful hypnotic effect on the brain and body. It can help people with minor sleep disturbances such as insomnia, restlessness, and sleep walking. (9)
The necessity of sleep is inevitable in every human. And the lack of it can cause serious mental and physical problems.
Key Takeaway: Apart from aiding cognitive impairment, cardamom may help prevent sleeping problems in most individuals. It can be used as an essential oil for inhalation before getting ready for bed.
6. Cardamom Contains Calcium Which Supports Healthy Bones
It’s no surprise that foods rich in calcium significantly lower bone damage and weakness. Cardamom is an anti-inflammatory spice, and like its relatives, it contains good amounts of calcium.
Calcium limits bone pain and swelling caused due to environmental and genetic factors. If you’ve heard of osteoporosis, you know what loss of bone can do to one’s body. But with a calcium deficiency matters could get even worse.
Apart from benefiting certain metabolic processes in the body, calcium is absorbed by the bones for proper mobility and strength. Without proper calcium absorption, it could cause abnormal bone development, fractures, and joint inflammation. (10)
A study conducted on human participants proved that a daily consumption of 1000 mg of calcium in children, men, and women can improve overall bone health.
One study studying the effects of calcium also proved that taking calcium-rich supplements, including spices, can increase bone mineral density. (11)
Key Takeaway: Increasing your calcium intake with the help of cardamom can lead to reduction of bone damage. It helps increase bone mineral density which is the leading agents of reduced bone fractures and osteoporosis in older adults.
7. People Consuming Cardamom Live A Longer Life
Cardamom is home to many nutritive compounds that help older adults live a healthier life. They include calcium, potassium, magnesium, and fiber. (12)
These nutrients help alleviate age-related problems while regulating a healthy immune system. As we get older, the digestion and absorption of certain nutrients decreases drastically causing more health problems than ever. That’s why you need these essential nutrients in your daily diet.
That said, another study proves that vitamin C also plays a hand in healthy aging. Vitamin C deficiency is a contributor to age-related degenerative problems. (13)
It is well-documented that nutrients such as calcium, fiber, vitamins, and minerals play a role in reducing intolerance and chronic disease risk associated with aging.
Calcium, on the other hand, helps increase lactose tolerance in the body. This ensures stronger bones and a healthy immune response. Calcium helps in the maintenance of hormones and other nutrients in the bloodstream. It balances glucose levels in older diabetic patients and alleviates abnormal kidney, intestine, and liver response. (14)
Key Takeaway: Cardamom is good for balancing lactase deficiency, digestion, and glucose levels in older adults. It consists of powerful nutrients that aid aging and help you live longer.
8. Manganese Present In Cardamom Prevents Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic brain disorder that’s irreversible and just gets worse with time. There’s no definite cure for this movement disorder just yet, but you can consume certain foods to lower your chances.
It can also be said that certain types of food, such as cardamom, can help alleviate severe symptoms of this disorder. Such as tremor of the hands, legs, and face, instability, stiffness, and slow mobility. (15)
Cardamom contains one powerful nutrient that is proven to have Parkinson’s disease reducing properties. A proper balance of manganese in the body can helps enhance neurotransmitter pathways between the brain cells and other brain regions. (16)
Based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reports, an increased consumption of manganese in the body can improve hypothalamus and cortex function. It helps in the transportation of protein to different parts of the brain.
Also, it helps enhance neuron function and reduces the amount of unhealthy and degraded neurons in the blood cells. This stimulates neuropathological changes in the favor of healthy brain function.
Key Takeaway: Cardamom is the biggest source of manganese which is 80% of the recommended serving. It helps eliminate brain cell damage that might cause Parkinson’s disease which is a chronic movement disorder.
9. Cardamom Is A Powerful Spice For Promoting Dental Health
Oral health is as important as digestion, cognition, and the immune system. Any excessive bacteria formation in the mouth can lead to severe infections and even mouth cancer.
Cardamom is a serious contributor to oral health as it helps prevent bad breath, cavities, and mouth ulcers. It kills harmful bacteria formation that leads to bad breath. Also it prevents tooth decay associated with the intake of salty and fried foods.
It is an effective remedy against tooth decay and formation of germ particles on the surface of the tongue. Maybe that’s why you hear the phrase “cardamom comfort” so much on health-related channels. It helps reduce dental problems to a higher degree than other natural remedies.
Key Takeaway: Interestingly, the antimicrobial properties of cardamom extract and cardamom seeds helps reduce bacteria formation in the mouth. Due to its phenolic compounds, it fights tooth decay, bad breath, mouth ulcers, and other infections.
10. The Powerful Compounds Of Cardamom Help Reduce Hypertension
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a major contributor to heart diseases, diabetes, and other digestive problems.
It’s commonly known that powerful aromatic spices and herbs help alleviate high blood pressure. So if you have your blood pressure checked regularly, you might notice a difference in overall health with the help of cardamom.
You can infuse cardamom in coffees and teas or add them to your daily meals for its blood pressure-lowering properties. (19)
Cardamom also lowers your chances of developing atherosclerosis and heart attacks associated with hypertension. (20)
Using cardamom in powdered form or in soups and other meals is a good way to lowering blood pressure for a healthy heart.
Key Takeaway: Not only can cardamom ease digestion, but it can lower blood pressure associated with hypertension. It also helps prevent other severe conditions linked with high blood pressure such as heart attack, stroke, and atherosclerosis.
11. Cardamom Contains Good Fiber Along With Phytonutrients To Prevent Heart Diseases
Maintaining cardiac health is essential to the immune system and metabolism. Cardamom consists of many nutrients that alleviate heart diseases. These nutrients include fiber, zinc, and other phytonutrients.
Zinc is known for its cardiac-stimulating properties. Zinc deficiency in the body is associated with weak heart muscles and abnormal cardiac function, studies suggest. It also causes more oxidative stress in the bloodstream. (21)
To decrease cellular stress, increase proper blood flow to and from the organs, and increase heart tissue mass, an increased consumption of zinc is essential.
On the other hand, dietary fiber is proven to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease caused by lifestyle-related factors in humans. It improves fat metabolism, glucose metabolism, and body weight regulation. (22)
Phytonutrients, present in cardamom, also play a significant role in reducing inflammation associated with multiple diseases including heart disease, cancer, and dementia. (23)
Key Takeaway: Cardamom contains fiber, zinc, and phytonutrients that help reduce risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. There is plenty of evidence that proves that it has cardiac-stimulating effects within the body.
12. Cardamom Can Help Cure Metabolic Disease
Cardamom is key to lowering your chances of developing metabolic diseases. Black and green cardamom helps decrease plasma triglycerides and body fat. Both of these factors are crucial for enhancing fat metabolism in the body.
Moving forward, other factors linked with metabolic diseases such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes, etc. can also be controlled with the help of cardamom.
One study conducted on rats proved that an increase in cardamom consumption can positively affect cardiac collagen deposition, plasma processes, and vascular reactivity in the body. This reduced their chances of metabolic syndrome by almost 90%. (24)
Another study tested the effectiveness of cardamom extracts on the metabolic enzyme required for proper stimulation of the immune system. This plays a hand in lowering metabolic inflammation in the body. (25)
Key Takeaway: Cardamom helps decrease systolic and diastolic pressure levels in the body. It also encourages better glucose and immune response to fight inflammatory metabolic enzymes within the body.
13. The Vitamins And Riboflavin In Cardamom Can Promote Eye Health
Traditionally, cardamom is used in therapies that promote eye health and vision. It’s an important spice that has been used to cure blurred vision by improving proper blood circulation to the eyes.
Thanks to its riboflavin content, cardamom symptoms of vision loss in older adults. The bioflavonoids and vitamin C present in cardamom reduce oxidative stress linked with age-related macular degeneration.
It also helps form the connective tissue in the eyes, which plays a major role in keeping the cornea of the eye healthy and stable. This vitamin C also supports long-term vision by preventing cataract formation in humans. (26)
Another report suggests that consumption of vitamin C in the blood lower risk of cataract formation by 33%. Other tests proved that this antioxidant suppresses free radical-induced oxidative stress associated with early lens opacities, which is a chronic eye condition.
Key Takeaway: The vitamins and riboflavin present in cardamom decrease risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataract, loss of transparency, and vision loss in adults.
14. Regular Consumption Of Cardamom Prevents Digestive Problems
You must have read somewhere that cardamom is traditionally used as Ayurvedic medicine for immediate gastrointestinal relief from constipation, acid reflux, etc.
The carotenoids present in cardamom also offer antioxidant and starch hydrolase inhibitory properties. This enhances normal digestive processes by reducing chronic gastric conditions.
Multiple studies prove that people who struggle with daily digestive problems, the methanolic extracts found in cardamom help ease such discomfort. It also reduces inflammation caused in the stomach due to lifestyle-related factors such as alcohol, smoking, and aspirin.
Key Takeaway: Cardamom provides immediate relief from stomach problems such as ulcers, infections, and inflammation. It is a major component to enhance digestion and control other severe symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders such as liver disease, chronic constipation, and acid reflux.
Did you know that cardamom seeds belong to a plant that is a part of the ginger group? But everybody knows that cardamom gives out a strong and wonderful aroma. And the taste is enticingly warm with a sweet, spicy flavor. You can cook with the entire pods or extract the seeds from within and add them to the dishes.
Once you add even a little bit of cardamom to your food, it has the ability to make a world of a difference. So let’s move on to talking about the deliciousness of cardamom. There are many different types of dishes that you can prepare with a dash of this aromatic spice in them.
1. Chickpea Lemon Muffins
Let’s start with this delightful sweet snack that boasts cardamom flavor with a classic lemon twist. And we all love muffins anyway, don’t we?
1/2 tsp of salt
2/3 cup of flour, whole wheat and sifted
2 tbsp of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tbsp of orange juice, freshly squeezed
Zest of 2 lemons
Zest of 2 oranges
1 chickpea can (the chickpeas should be drained as well as rinsed)
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 tsp of ground cardamom
2 tsp of baking powder
1/4 cup of olive oil, extra virgin
1/3 cup of almond meal
For the topping:
1/4 tbsp of ground cardamom
1-1/2 tbsp of granulated sugar
Preheat your microwave to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Use paper liners to line the muffin tin. Then puree the orange and lemon juice and zest with egg yolks, sugar, olive oil, and chickpeas. You can do this in a food processor or blender until the mixture turns smooth.
The next step is to sift together baking powder, cardamom, almond meal, salt, and flour in a large-sized bowl. Then add the chickpea paste into this bowl.
Now it’s time to whisk the egg whites and fold them into the batter.
In a small bowl, bring together cardamom and sugar and keep it aside.
You can scoop the batter into the muffin tin. Each muffin should contain at least 1/4 cup of the batter. Top it off with cardamom-sugar mixture.
Finally, bake the muffins for 30 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center to check if the muffins are ready to provide your taste buds with a burst of delicious flavor.
2. Pickled Plum, Radish, and Jicama Salad
This recipe is an unusual mix of crushed cardamom pods with a delicately seasoned salad.
For the plum sauce:
1 tsp of sugar
3 plums, chopped into eight wedges
1 ginger, peeled
1 tsp of kosher salt
1/4 cup of orange juice, freshly squeezed
2 pods of cardamom, crushed lightly
1 tsp of juniper berries
2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
Red pepper flakes, crushed
1/2 tsp of gochugaru
2 tbsp of lime juice, freshly squeezed
For the salad:
1/4 cup of rice vinegar, unseasoned
1 plum, chopped into wedges
1 peeled jicama, sliced into matchsticks
1/4 tsp of kosher salt
1/2 cucumber, sliced and divided
2 watermelon radishes, sliced into matchsticks
1/4 cup of thinly sliced mint leaves, divided
1/3 cup of roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped and divided
1 tsp of sumac
1 tsp of Aleppo pepper
Some sea salt
First, you need to prepare the plum sauce. For that, add salt, sugar, and plums into a saucepan. Once plums release their juices, which takes about 2 hours, bring in the gochugaru, juniper berries, vinegar, orange juice, cardamom, and ginger.
Let this boil until the plums become jammy and break down. This should take not more than 20 minutes. Then add the lime juice and let it cool.
Strain this plum sauce using a sieve into a bowl. Make sure to discard the solids. Then keep it aside. You can chill the sauce if you like.
The next step is to prepare the salad. Toss vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt, and plum in a bowl. The goal is to pickle the plum lightly, which takes about 15 minutes. Then drain.
Bring together 1 teaspoon of Aleppo pepper, 1 teaspoon of sumac, half mint leaves, half peanuts, half cucumber, radishes, jicama, and pickled plum. Now you can add 2 tablespoon of plum sauce with kosher salt seasoning in the bowl.
Top the salad with the remaining ingredients before drizzling the whole dish with more plum sauce. And there you go, your salad is ready!
3. Butter Chicken
Cardamom blends with cream, butter, and tomatoes to give you a taste of the spicy, aromatic Indian cuisine.
For the marinade:
4 cloves of garlic, grated
1/2 cup of Greek yogurt
1 tbsp of ginger, finely grated
1 tbsp of fenugreek leaves
2 pounds of skinless, boneless chicken thighs
2 tsp of kosher salt
For the rest of the dish:
1 medium cinnamon stick
1/2 cup of unsalted butter
1 clove, whole
5 cardamom pods, green
2 sliced onions
2 tsp of fenugreek seeds
2 sliced serrano chiles
1 tbsp of ginger, finely grated
4 cloves of garlic, grated
1 tsp of paprika
1 tbsp of garam masala
2 cans of peeled tomatoes
1/2 tsp of ground turmeric
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 tbsp of fenugreek leaves
The preparation of the marinade comes first. For that, you need to whisk salt, ginger, fenugreek leaves, garlic, and yogurt. Then add the chicken to the mix and toss it to coat. You can chill the marinade for at least 2-3 hours.
In the meantime, melt 4 tbsp of butter in a pot over medium flame. Cook the fenugreek seeds, clove, cardamom pods, and cinnamon. Wait for them to become fragrant and slightly dark. Then bring in the chiles, onion, and salt. Let this cook until the onion turns golden. This should take not more than 10 minutes.
Now is the time to add ginger and garlic and wait for them to turn fragrant. Then add turmeric, paprika, garam masala, and fenugreek leaves. Let them cook for a minute before tossing in the tomatoes. Break them up into pieces using a spoon. Once the liquid evaporates, mash the tomatoes with a large spoon or potato masher. Simmer uncovered until the sauce becomes consistently thick. This means let it simmer for at least 50 minutes. Then discard the cinnamon stick from the cooking pot.
At the end of which you need to transfer the whole mixture into your blender. Puree it until the paste becomes smooth. Then add the remaining butter along with cream and blend it until you achieve a creamy paste. Don’t forget to season it with salt before returning the dish to the cooking pot. Let it simmer.
In the meantime, preheat your broiler. Arrange all the chicken on the wire rack placed inside a baking sheet lined with foil. Broil the chicken pieces until they turn brown on both the sides. Following which you can chop the chicken pieces and add them to the simmering sauce.
Let the whole thing cook for at least 10 minutes. Add some cilantro topping and serve the delicious buttery, creamy chicken with either rice or naan.
4. Cardamom Masala Chai
Learn how to make the perfect masala chai with cardamom and ginger. You can add maple syrup as well if you like your tea to be on a slightly sweeter side.
1 medium cinnamon stick, crushed lightly
1 piece of fresh ginger, coarsely grated
14 cardamom pods, crushed lightly
1/4 cup of maple syrup, pure
2-3/4 cups of milk
6 tsp of loose black tea
Boil 3-1/2 cups of water with cinnamon and ginger in a saucepan on medium heat. Then reduce the heat and simmer and stir occasionally. By this time, the quantity of liquid will have reduced a little bit. All this should not take more than 20 minutes.
Turn off the heat before adding cardamom and tea.
Then return the pan to medium heat. Pour maple syrup and milk into it. Cook until the mixture starts to boil and foam up. Once that happens, turn off the heat.
Let the cooked tea sit for at least 5 minutes. Then strain it with the help of a sieve and serve it nice and warm.
Wrapping It Up
Cardamom has a long history of medicinal and herbal use in Chinese medicine. Modern scientific research has confirmed its effective benefits on human health for many health markers such as hypertension, cognitive disorders, oral cavities, digestive problems, etc.
Now that you know cardamom’s powerful effects on all biological systems in the body, it’s time to incorporate cardamom-infused desserts, teas, and salads in your diet. It’s a heart and mind-healthy spice that could boost intelligence and make you feel less stressed and tired.
To make things easier for you, I have also compiled a small list of cardamom-rich recipes that I know you’ll love. This will help you incorporate more cardamom-rich meals on a daily basis. These recipes are easy to make and require minimal cleanup.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.