The Nutritional and Health Benefits of Cardamom or Elaichi
Cardamom is a spice native to India, Nepal and Bhutan and belongs to the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. Two genera in this family, Elettaria and Amomum, provide the cardamom pods that are different in color, size, flavor and taste.
- Elettaria cardamomum provides the green cardamom, also called true cardamom, Ceylon cardamom etc.
- Amomum subulatum provides the black cardamom, also called Bengal cardamom, hill cardamom, Indian cardamom, brown cardamom, winged cardamom etc.
In India, green cardamom is called "choti elaichi" while the black cardamom is called "badi elaichi" or "moti elaichi". The stem of the cardamom plant is an underground rhizome and the branches which bear the pods are borne on the surface of the soil.
The green cardamom is smaller with yellowish green to green colored pods having thin skin with small black seeds. It has an aromatic taste and pungent flavor.
The black cardamom is much bigger and has thicker dark skin that is brown colored. It has a smoky flavor and aroma.
Green cardamom is used in Indian and several other Asian cuisines as a cooking spice. It is also used to flavor beverages and is used in both Traditional and Western medicine. Traditional Indian sweets use cardamom in many preparations. It is also used to make masala chai or spiced tea.
Black cardamom is used in garam masala which is a type of 5 spice powder. Black cardamom is used meat stews, curries etc. Bakeries use it on a large scale since it is cheaper. Wrigley uses it to make its Eclipse Breeze Exotic Mint chewing gum as an aid to neutralize breath odors.
Green cardamom is much more expensive than the black cardamom as it is thought to be superior in quality but it is essentially because of its superior taste and flavor than quality.
Green cardamom is the third most expensive spice next to saffron and vanilla.
- Cardamom is an excellent source of manganese, supplies about 1217% of the DV/100 grams, a very good source of iron, supplying 175% of the DV/100 grams and has good levels of other minerals like copper, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc.
- It also contains good amounts of Vitamin C and the B complex vitamins, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin and pyridoxine.
- It is low in sodium and free of cholesterol.
- Most importantly it contains a wealth of essential oils.
The essential oil is extracted from the seeds. It has a sweet and spicy aroma and is a clear oil. Cardamom essential oil is used in pharmaceuticals, perfumes, for flavoring bitters, liquers and preparation of tinctures.
The oil helps to ease cold, cough, congestion and warms the body. It is also an aphrodisiac and also helps in combating digestive issues including flatulence, indigestion and nausea.
Cardamom Nutrition Facts
Cardamom, Nutritional value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Percentage of RDA
Following are some of the health benefits of cardamom :
- It has stimulative, digestive and carminative properties and enhances appetite, relieves indigestion, gas, flatulence, constipation, acidity, nausea and colic and spasms, and dysentery.
- It treats mouth ulcers, halitosis,teeth and gum infections as it has antibacterial action.
- Cardamom has expectorant properties, therefore it helps to remove, reduce and soothe the mucus membranes. Thus it relieves sore throat, colds, coughs and various other respiratory allergies.
- It benefits in urinary tract infections, has diuretic properties and detoxifies the body.
- Cardamom balances the 3 doshas of the body; tri dosha as it is called in Ayurveda.
- It works as an antidote to scorpion and snake bites.
- Cardamom oil added to bathwater fights stress and relaxes.
- Cardamom contains the phytochemicals indole-3-carbinol and di indolylmethane which fight hormone related cancers, that of the breast, ovary and prostrate.
- It lowers blood pressure and also prevents formation of blood clots.
- Cardamom increase the levels of the antioxidant glutathione which inhibits colon can cell reproduction and kills them.
- Cardamom has meat protection properties as it acts as a natural preservative.
- Cardamom has analgesic properties so it eases joint and muscle pains and inflammed nerves.
"Prescription for Herbal Healing"; Phyllis A. Balch; 2002
Some Natural Remedies With Cardamom
- To relieve hiccups, make an infusion by boiling 5 mint leaves and 2 pounded cardamom pods in a cup of water and drink.
- To treat gonorrhea, cystitis, nephritis and burning sensation while passing urinem add some powdered cardamom seeds to 1 tsp banana leaf powder and 1 tsp amla juice and take 3 times a day.
- For instant relief in headache apply cardamom paste on the forehead.
- For aphrodisiac benefits, add a pinch of cardamom seeds to a glass of milk. Add a tsp of honey and drink daily.
- For protection against heat stroke, chew a cardamom pod before going out in the sun.
- In stomachache, crush 2 cardamoms and mix in a tsp honey and consume.
- In kidney failure grind cardamom and mix in milk and drink. It brings on urine and also stops burning sensation on urination.
- For blood in bile, on an empty stomach chew and eat 2 cardamom pods everyday and then drink milk after this. It benefits.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly