This spice comes from the seeds of various plants belonging to the same family as ginger. It can be purchased in the form of a whole seed pod, pre-ground powder, essential oil or capsule.
Its use in traditional medicine may have stemmed from the Egyptians, who took cardamom as a mouth freshener. Nowadays, its powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties are used to treat a variety of ailments.
The health benefits of cardamom include:
Studies suggest that cardamom can improve symptoms and markers of metabolic syndrome, a group of disorders that can lead to Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. These disorders include:
One study compared the effects of green cardamom on people with Type 2 diabetes. Those who took cardamom for at least 10 weeks had improved insulin and hemoglobin A1c levels.
Another study examined the effect of cardamom on overweight or obese women who had prediabetes and high cholesterol levels. Those who took the supplement for eight weeks had lower levels of inflammatory proteins that contribute to poor metabolic health.
In one animal study, researchers fed mice with a diet high in carbohydrates and fats. Mice that received cardamom powder had a lower weight and better cholesterol than those who did not receive the supplement.
Cardamom boosts heart health. One study looked at the effects of cardamom oil on mice fed with high cholesterol diet for eight weeks. Mice that received cardamom had drastically lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Another mice study found that it may protect against heart attacks and improve heart function due to its antioxidant properties.
Cardamom is rich in phytochemicals, natural compounds that protect cells from damage that can lead to cancer. In fact, research suggests that consuming more foods rich in phytochemicals can reduce cancer risk by as much as 40 percent.
One animal study suggests that taking cardamom supplements for 15 days can reduce the size and weight of skin tumors.
Cardamom is commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine due to its detoxifying properties. For this reason, people have taken cardamom to boost liver health, as the liver plays an important part in removing toxins from the body.
Some studies also back the renal health benefits of cardamom. One study examined the effect of green cardamom on overweight or obese people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Those who took cardamom displayed improved markers of liver health compared to the placebo group.
Another study found that mice fed with high-fat and high-carbohydrate diet plus cardamom had lower levels of liver stress than mice fed a diet without supplementation. (Related: Green cardamom supplements can protect the liver for those with obesity.)
Cardamom is also beneficial for digestive health, with some people mixing it in their teas to soothe stomach ailments, including ulcers.
One study examined the effect of cardamom extract on mice who had ulcers. Those who received the extract had fewer and smaller ulcers compared to those who did not receive the extract.
Meanwhile, another study recommends combining cardamom with turmeric and sembung leaf; mice who received this combination of herbal extracts had smaller and fewer ulcers after being overdosed with aspirin, a known contributor to ulcers, compared to mice who took the drug alone.
Cardamom oil has antimicrobial properties that can fight infections.
In fact, research shows that cardamom oil can kill various types of bacteria and fungi, with one study concluding that cardamom essential oil exhibited “antimicrobial activity against almost all test microorganisms.” Another study suggests that the oil can be added to antimicrobial drugs.
However, keep in mind that cardamom oil should not be ingested directly. It’s important to speak to a healthcare professional before taking a new herbal remedy. (Related: Top 15 compelling reasons to use cardamom often and generously.)
Cardamom, with its powerful antioxidant properties and distinctive flavor, straddles the fine line between a healthful remedy and a flavorful spice. Add more of it to your dishes or take cardamom supplements.
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