Cardamom (Elaichi) Benefits and Side Effects

Cardamom (Elaichi) Benefits and Side Effects


Cardamom, also called Elaichi is a small green pod with black seeds inside. It is an ancient spice which originated in the western ghats of southern India. Its modern-day production is spread from Indo China and Tanzania to Guatemala and Sri Lanka. The ancient uses of cardamom vary from being a tooth cleanser for the Egyptians to being used as a perfume for the Greeks and Romans.

Cardamom (Elaichi) Benefits and Side Effects


Cardamom is the third most expensive spice after saffron and vanilla. The market today offers various inferior substitutes of cardamom which come from plants that are similar to cardamoms such as the Nepal cardamom, Siam cardamom, Bastard cardamom, and Winged Java cardamom. However, Elettaria cardamom is the only true form of cardamom. In India there are two main varieties of cardamom namely the Malabar cardamom and Mysore cardamom.


Guatemala is the largest producer and exporter of cardamoms in the world, followed by India and Sri Lanka. The largest producer of cardamoms in India is Kerala, accounting for 70% of the total country’s production. This is followed by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.


Cardamom has a pleasantly sweet aroma that is linked to a lot of traditional Indian recipes. Cardamom mainly features in curries and rice dishes and it is one of the most common flavour in most Indian desserts. In fact, cardamom is considered as a ‘festive’ spice. Cardamom is also a defining flvour in some Indian sweet drinks.


In Indian meals, cardamom seeds are generally without the pods. The Pods are neutral in flavour and they leave an unpleasant aftertaste to the dish. 


Some basic facts about Cardamom:


Scientific Name: Elettaria cardamomum Maton

Family: Zingiberaceae

Common Name: Elaichi

Native region and geographical distribution: Cardamom is mostly cultivated in the evergreen forest situated in Western Ghats of Southern India. Apart from India, cardamom is commercially grown in Guatemala, Tanzania, El Salvador, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia etc. The major cultivars of cardamom also include eastern Nepal, Darjeeling, Sikkim, and southern Bhutan.

  • Cardamom nutrition facts
  • Cardamom health benefits
  • Cardamom side effects
  • Takeaway


Cardamom nutrition facts

Cardamom is believed to have innumerable health benefits because it is highly rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. It is also packed with various vitamins that help in the smooth functioning of the body.


As per the USDA Nutritional Database, 100 g of cardamom contains the following nutrients:


Nutrients Value per 100 g

Water 8.28 g

Energy 311 kcal

Protein 10.76 g

Fat 6.70 g

Carbohydrate 68.47 g

Fiber 28.0 g

 

Minerals Value per 100 g

Calcium 383 mg

Iron 13.97 mg

Magnesium 229 mg

Phosphorus 178 mg

Potassium 1119 mg

Sodium 18 mg

Zinc 7.47 mg

 

Vitamins Value per 100 g

Vitamin B1 0.198 mg

Vitamin B2 0.182 mg

Vitamin B3 1.102 mg

Vitamin B6 0.230 mg

Vitamin C 21.0 mg

 

Fats/Fatty acids Value per 100g

Saturated 0.680 g

Monounsaturated 0.870 g

Polyunsaturated 0.430 g

Cardamom health benefits

  • Cardamom for digestion
  • Cardamom for respiratory problems
  • Cardamom for teeth
  • Cardamom as an antimicrobial
  • Cardamom anti-inflammatory properties
  • Cardamom for high blood pressure
  • Cardamom for anxiety
  • Cardamom for liver
  • Cardamom for cancer

Cardamom for digestion

According to Ayurveda, cardamom has important medicinal values that can help treat indigestion. In Greece, cardamom was known as a medicinal herb because of its ability to cure digestive disorders. A study done on animal models showed that cardamoms have protective effects against gastric ulcers. Although much more research is still needed to confirm the benefits of cardamom for the stomach, the ayurvedic and folk claims can't be denied.


Cardamom for respiratory problems

Essential oils have been in use in Aromatherapy for healing various ailments. Although there are different applications of aromatherapy, the most common application is inhalation of essential oil such as cardamom oil through a diffuser. The use of essential oil in aromatherapy is known to have numerous benefits to the health and one among that is its property to cure respiratory problems.


Cardamoms have been used in Ayurveda since the 4th century BC to treat various respiratory disorders such as bronchitis and asthma. A study done on animal models showed that cardamoms are rich in alkaloids, flavonoids and other compounds that are very effective in increasing airflow to the lungs. 


Cardamom for teeth

Cardamom has been used in Ayurveda to prevent various tooth and gum diseases including toothache, bleeding gums etc. A study showed that the acetonic extract from cardamoms exhibited antimicrobial properties which could be used to treat dental caries. Another study suggests that cardamom oil contains important compounds that can act as an antiseptic which can kill bacteria that is responsible for bad breath and oral diseases. So, grab yourself a cardamom pod and get rid of oral bacteria and bad breath.


Cardamom as an antimicrobial

Cardamom has antimicrobial properties that could be used to treat various infections.


Candida is one of the important causes of fungal infections. A study done on the 202 Candida species showed inhibitory effects on exposure to certain extracts of cardamom. Another study done on various extracts from black cardamom showed that they were effective against a wide range of microorganisms.


Cardamom anti-inflammatory properties

Inflammation is a sign that the body is trying to heal itself when it is exposed to harmful foreign bodies. But when the inflammation lasts for long, that is when it leads to diseases such as cancer. A preclinical study suggests that cardamom can be used to prevent inflammation. Another study showed that cardamom can help reduce gastrointestinal inflammation. Cineole, also known as eucalyptol present in cardamom has been claimed to be effective in preventing inflammation in animal models.


Cardamom for high blood pressure

Cardamom is helpful in controlling high blood pressure. In a study conducted among 20 hypertensive adults, consumption of cardamom for a period of 12 weeks lead to a significant fall in the blood pressure levels. The promising results in lowering blood pressure is attributed to the high levels of antioxidants present in cardamoms.


Presence of excess salt in the body has been linked to an increase in blood pressure. Researchers believe that cardamom is effective in lowering blood pressure due to its diuretic effect, which means it can remove the excess water and salts from the body in the form of urine.


Cardamom for anxiety

Due to the fast-paced lifestyle in the modern century, anxiety has become a growing problem in the recent years. Several studies have been going on to understand the underlying causes of anxiety and find ways to reduce and control it. A pre-clinical study showed that cardamom extract is helpful in preventing symptoms of anxiety after stress. However, the study did not mention the exact method by which the results were deduced.


Cardamom for liver

Liver diseases could be caused by a number of factors including viral infections and over-consumption of alcohol. Several studies show the efficacy of cardamom extract in preventing liver diseases. A done on animal models showed the ability of cardamom extract as a hepatoprotective (protects liver). This was inferred from an increase in the albumin levels and the level of good cholesterol (HDL) in these animals. Albumin belongs to a group of proteins and a low level of albumin could lead to liver diseases.


Another study done on animal models with hepatic steatosis (abnormal buildup of fat in the liver) showed that cardamom was effective in the prevention of liver diseases such as hepatomegaly (abnormal liver enlargement).


Cardamom for cancer

Cancer is a disease marked by an abnormal growth of body cells. A study done on animal models showed that cardamom was effective in preventing stage 2 skin cancer.


Another study revealed that an important component present in cardamom, γ-Bisabolene could act as an effective anti-cancer agent and may have the potential to be used in developing cancer drugs.

It has also been noted that cardamom extracts are effective in stimulating the activity of the natural killer cells (a type of white blood cells), thereby having the potential to be used in cancer drugs.

Cardamom side effects

Cardamom is usually considered safe to be consumed and there have not been many reported cases of cardamom allergy. However, in a case study, a confectioner was found to be allergic to cardamoms. He suffered from chronic hand dermatitis, an infection that causes swelling, blistering and redness in the hand. This was due to a compound called terpenes present in the seeds of cardamom.

Cardamom is known to reduce blood pressure. So if you suffer from hypotension (low blood pressure) or are a hypertensive (high blood pressure) patient on medicines, it is best to refer to your doctor before consuming cardamom.

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