- What you need to know
- Calories and nutritional value
- What to cook
- Expert comments
Maria Volchenkova, nutritionist of the BestDoctor group of companies;
Valeria Kotova, chef of the MansardA restaurant-bar;
Natalia Tananakina, endocrinologist at Meditsina JSC (Clinic of Academician Roitberg), Ph.D.
What is cardamom
In order to obtain the spice, unripe fruits are collected by hand, dried in the sun, then moistened
Cardamom is a spice from the ginger family and is grown in India, Sri Lanka and Central America. Cardamom is called the “king of spices”. In Ancient Egypt, cardamom powder was used as an oral care product, and in Ancient Greece and Rome it was used as an ingredient for perfume.
To obtain the spice, unripe cardamom fruits are picked by hand, dried in the sun, and then moistened. The final stage is re-drying. This multi-stage procedure is necessary so that the pods do not open prematurely and retain their characteristic aroma and taste.
The cardamom pod, containing the hard black seeds, is sometimes added whole to dishes. But more often it is opened and the grains are fried in the oven or in a frying pan. They contain essential oil, which gives food its characteristic taste and aroma. Cardamom is also sold in ground form: the seeds are ground in a mortar to a powder. In cooking, the spice is used in a variety of ways: it is added to drinks, hot dishes, salads and snacks, baked goods and desserts. Cardamom goes well with cinnamon, as well as nutmeg and cloves.
Calories and nutritional value of cardamom
One teaspoon of ground cardamom contains (1):
- 6 kcal;
- 0.2 g protein;
- 1.3 g carbohydrates;
- 0.5 g fiber.
Benefits of cardamom: five properties
Cardamom extract may increase urination and lower blood pressure
Cardamom is rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Thanks to them cardamom can help lower blood pressure and have a positive effect on oral and digestive health (2).
1. May lower blood pressure
In one study, 20 participants with high blood pressure were given 3 grams of ground cardamom per day. After 12 weeks, the subjects’ blood pressure returned to normal. Scientists attribute this result to the large amount of antioxidants in the spice, as well as its diuretic properties. Thanks to this, excess water that accumulates in the body, for example around the heart, is eliminated naturally (3), (4).
Cardamom also showed these effects in an experiment on rats: its extract increased urination and lowered blood pressure (5).
2. Reduces inflammation
Cardamom contains many antioxidants that protect cells from damage and prevent inflammation (6), (7). One experiment found that cardamom extract suppressed inflammation (8). Another study found that cardamom powder reduced liver inflammation caused by a high-fat, high-carbohydrate diet (9). More information is needed to draw definitive conclusions, but scientists now say cardamom supplements can increase antioxidant status by up to 90% (3).
3. Supports oral health
Cardamom is effective against five types of bacteria that cause tooth decay, and also reduces the amount of microflora in saliva samples by 54% (10), (11). The spice is added to some chewing gums because it freshens breath. But more research is needed before cardamom is included in the list of effective oral care products.
4. Has an antibacterial effect
Cardamom extract and essential oil reduce the growth of drug-resistant Candida strains that can cause fungal infections in humans (12). In terms of its effect on bacteria that cause food poisoning, cardamom is comparable to standard drugs against E. coli and staphylococcus (13). Scientists have found that cardamom essential oil fights Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria, which lead to stomach poisoning and inflammation (14). So far, cardamom and its derivatives have only been tested in laboratories, so more research is needed to draw more serious conclusions about its interaction with bacteria.
5. Improves breathing quality
In one experiment, participants were divided into two groups. The first one inhaled cardamom essential oil before walking on the treadmill, the second one worked out without this preliminary procedure. It turned out that the first group had significantly higher oxygen consumption compared to the second (15).
Harm of cardamom
Even the safest and healthiest product or spice can cause an allergic reaction or individual intolerance
In moderation – in drinks, dishes and desserts – cardamom is usually not harmful. But moderation is important in everything.
What to cook with cardamom: three simple recipes
Ice cream with cardamom
Cardamom is a versatile spice that can be added to drinks, hot dishes, desserts and baked goods.
Cardamom has been used in the Ayurvedic tradition for thousands of years, it is one of the most popular spices in Indian cuisine and is included in the drink masala chai.