Cardamom

Cardamom is the dried ripe fruit (capsules of cardamom plant) often referred as the “Queen of Spices” because of its very pleasant aroma and taste. Enclosed in the fruit pods are tiny, brown, aromatic seeds, which are both pungent and sweet to the taste. Cardamom pods are generally green but are also available in bleached white pod form. It is available both in the whole pod and as decorticated seeds with the outer hull removed. It is one of the oldest spices in the world and also one of the most popular being the third most expensive spice after saffron and vanilla. The three most important types of cardamom are: Green Cardamom

  • Black or brown Cardamom
  • Ground Cardamom

It is generally agreed upon that green cardamom is the highest quality of cardamom you can find. The cardamom is then used as spice, tea or medicine. It is mostly popular as a spice. The taste can best be described as a sort of strong herb mixed with an orange with a slight hint of cinnamon.

Culinary Uses

  • In foods, cardamom is used as a spice in many parts of the world. This aromatic flavor makes this spice popular for baking, particularly for sweet breads, and its strength of flavor means that it can even be used to flavor coffees and teas.
  • In South Asia, it is sometimes used to flavor entrees, including some types of biryani, as well as pilau rice.
  • The major use is for the preparation of ‘gahwa’ – a strong cardamom coffee concoction which is a symbol for hospitality among Arabs. Apart from this cardamom is widely used as a flavouring material in whole and ground form.
  • In Asia, it can add a lingering sparkle to every kind of dishes both traditional and modern. In Scandinavian countries it is used in baked goods and confectionaries.
  • In Europe and North America it is an ingredient in curry powder and in some sausages products.
  • Besides making food, it is also used in a wide variety of traditional medicines throughout Asia, and it is said to be good for digestion, cleaning the teeth, and even neutralizing some types of venom.
  • Cardamom oil and oleoresin has applications in flavouring processed foods, cordials, and liquors and in perfumery and in Ayurvedic medicines.

Traditional Medicinal Uses:

  1. Digestion – Cardamom is related to ginger and can be used in much the same way to counteract digestive problems.Use it to combat nausea, acidity, bloating, gas, heartburn, loss of appetite, constipation, and much more.
  2. Detoxify – This spice helps the body eliminate waste through the kidneys.
  3. Halitosis – In India they chew cardamom after meals or whenever they need to freshen their breath.
  4. Diuretic – Part of the reason cardamom is such a good detoxifier is thanks to the diuretic properties. It helps clean out the urinary tract, bladder, and kidneys, removing waste, salt, excess water, toxins, and combating infections too.
  5. Depression – The science behind the antidepressant qualities of cardamom hasn’t been studied yet, but Ayurvedic medicine swears by the tea as a means to fight depression.
  6. Oral Health – Apart from helping with bad breath, cardamom is used for mouth ulcers and infections of the mouth and throat.
  7. Cold and Flu – This pungent spice may help prevent and relieve cold and flu symptoms. It’s also used for bronchitis and coughs.
  8. Cancer – Animal studies are showing promise that cardamom protects against, inhibits growth, and even kills some cancers.
  9. Blood Pressure – As a diuretic and fiber rich spice, cardamom significantly lowers blood pressure.
  10. Blood Clots – Cardamom prevents dangerous blood clots by preventing platelet aggregation and the sticking to the artery walls.
  11. Antioxidant – Many of the vitamins, phytonutrients, and essential oils in cardamom act as antioxidants, cleaning up free radicals and resisting cellular aging.
  12. Pathogens – The volatile essential oils in cardamom inhibit the growth of viruses, bacteria, fungus, and mold.
  13. Anti-inflammatory – Like ginger and turmeric, its relatives, cardamom has some anti-inflammatory properties that limit pain and swelling, especially in mucus membranes, the mouth, and throat.
  14. Hiccups – Cardamom is an anti-spasmodic that can help get rid of hiccups. This also applies to other involuntary muscle spasms, like stomach and intestinal cramps.
  15. Aphrodisiac – Traditional medicine lists cardamom as a powerful aphrodisiac that can help with erectile dysfunction and impotence.

Health benefits of cardamom

  • This exotic spice contains many plants derived chemical compounds that are known to have been anti-oxidant, disease preventing and health promoting properties.
  • The spicy pods contain many essential volatile oils that include pinene, sabinene, myrcene, phellandrene, limonene, 1, 8-cineole, terpinene, p-cymene, terpinolene, linalool, linalyl acetate, terpinen-4-oil, a-terpineol, a-terpineol acetate, citronellol, nerol, geraniol, methyl eugenol, and trans-nerolidol.
  • The therapeutic properties of cardamom-oil have found application in many traditional medicines as antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic and tonic.
  • Cardamom is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium. 100 g pods conatin 1119 mg of this electrolyte. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells.
  • Additionally, it is also an excellent source of iron and manganese. 100 g pods contain 13.97 mg or 175% of daily-required levels of iron. Iron is required for red blood cell formation and cellular metabolism. Manganese is a co-factor for the enzyme, superoxide dismutase, which is a very powerful free radical scavenger.
  • Further, these aromatic pods are rich in many vital vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-C that is essential for optimum health.

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