It is believed that green cardamom originally came from southwestern India, while black cardamom came from the eastern Himalayas and China
However, the first evidence of its use dates back to Ancient Egypt, where it was used in some rituals. The Greeks and Romans used this spice to make perfumes and oils.
Today, cardamom is cultivated in many countries. In India, it continues to occupy a special place among the most popular spices in the kitchen.
The cosmetics industry uses it as a flavoring agent, and gastronomy has also taken advantage of its virtues. However, in this article we will focus mainly on its medicinal properties and integral health benefits
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What is cardamom?
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Division: Magnoliophyta
- Division: Magnoliophyta
- Class: Liliopsida
- Order: Zingiberales
- Family: Zingiberaceae
Its scientific name is Elettaria Cardamomun. It is a perennial plant, very popular for its uses as an aromatic spice and for its medicinal properties to improve physical and emotional health.
There are two very different varieties of cardamom: black (Amomum subulatum) and green (Elettaria cardamomum).
Characteristics of cardamom
Green cardamom is often added to flavor various Indian dishes, such as biryani, kheer and curries. Black cardamom, on the other hand, is commonly used in naturopathy. Compared to green cardamom, it is less aromatic and has a more acidic taste.
Other outstanding characteristics of cardamom are these:
- It is a plant that develops in humid areas, its flowers are green and the seeds are black.
- For its cultivation it is important to have a subtropical climate, shade, humid, organic, sandy soils, and in summer it needs to be watered every day.
- Its leaves, fruits and seeds are used for different purposes.
- Its flavor is unique, between bitter, sweet and spicy.
- It is considered one of the healthiest and most expensive spices in the world.
- Green cardamom is often used to flavor liquid foods such as stews, broths, curries and sauces, as well as herbal teas and coffees
- Black cardamom has a fresh, intense and smoky aroma, as well as a camphoraceous touch. Unlike green cardamom, its size is much larger, and it has an intense flavor, which prevents its use in cooking.
Properties of Cardamom
- It has calories, carbohydrates, fiber and fat, as well as minerals such as sodium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and vitamins.
- It contains active compounds such as cineol and geraniol.
- It has essential oils.
- Its composition includes starch, which provides energy and activates the metabolism.
- It has diuretic properties.
- It is considered a good antioxidant.
- It has antimicrobial virtues.
- It is anti-inflammatory.
- It has anti-carcinogenic action.
- It has antidepressant, antioxidant and anti-diabetic effects.
- It acts as a powerful stimulant.
- It is attributed aphrodisiac powers.
Benefits of cardamom
Cardamom has essential oils that help and strengthen the body. Among the therapeutic benefits are the following:
- Improves digestive health. There is evidence to suggest that its combination with other medicinal spices can be effective in calming common symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. According to the Spanish Nutrition Foundation, cardamom stimulates appetite, relieves colic and can even counteract diarrhea.
- It regulates blood pressure. According to a study reported in the Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics, cardamom helps reduce high blood pressure in patients with primary hypertension. Researchers believe it is due to its mild diuretic effect, which stimulates the elimination of retained fluids in the body, which are a risk factor for hypertension.
- Relieves pain. Thanks to its essential oils and its anti-inflammatory action, it has proven effective in relieving headaches and discomfort caused by inflammation of hemorrhoids.
- It is a good stimulant. The stimulating effect it produces in the organism helps the person to be alert and active. On the other hand, its starch content brings strength and energy to the body
Uses of cardamom
This plant can be used in different ways to obtain the benefits provided by its chemical components, but the wisest thing to do is to obtain medical assistance before starting to consume it. Some of the uses that cardamom receives are these:
- Oral health care. It is an ingredient used to combat bad breath and in the manufacture of chewing gum for the same purpose. It is effective in inhibiting the growth of oral pathogenic bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans and Candida albicans.
- Gastronomy. It is used in the preparation of various dishes for its unique flavor and aroma.
- Stimulant. It is often used as a tea and beverage to stimulate appetite.
- Essence to treat stomach pain. To improve stomach discomfort, drops of cardamom essence are placed in olive oil to rub gently on the stomach. While the tea can also be used to prevent diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, and slow digestion.
- Massage. The oil infusion is used for relaxing massages.
Advantages and disadvantages of cardamom
The following are the advantages and disadvantages that should be analyzed before using cardamom
Advantages of cardamom
- Stimulates appetite.
- Combats bad breath.
- Reduces stomach gas and menstrual cramps.
- Combats flu and coughs.
- Soothes the pain of hemorrhoids.
- Improves digestion and respiratory system.
- Combats urinary problems.
- Helps in problems of impotence, erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
Disadvantages of cardamom
- Excessive consumption may cause some allergic reaction, respiratory difficulties, chest pressure and hives, skin inflammation and dermatitis.
- Its use is not recommended for people suffering from gallstones, irritable bowel, ulcers, diverticulitis, intestinal diseases, endometriosis, pregnant women and children under 6 years old.
Cardamom has forced its way among European consumers and is becoming increasingly popular not only in the kitchen, but also in medicine, as its healing properties are appreciated.