Why I love Cardamom

Many spices and herbs have disease-fighting and potentially cancer-preventing abilities. If you are thinking of adding more to your cooking this fall, don’t overlook one of my favorites – Cardamom. 

Cardamom has more than 25 volatile oils. The most medicinally active of the oils is the antioxidant Cineole, which is also found in bay leaf. The Indian Institute of Spices started researching Cardamom in 1978, after centuries of use in traditional medicine.  It is now studied for its health benefits worldwide.  

Here’s what some of the research shows

  1. Improves digestion. Dozens of studies over the last two decades have shown that the volatile oils in cardamon are anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic agents that work together to improve digestion.
  2. Calms the gut. Researchers from Saudi Arabia showed that Cardamom calms the gut by blocking receptors on cells that regulate muscle contraction. 
  3. Beats bad breath.  Cineole is an antiseptic that kills bacteria that cause bad breath.
  4. Stops ulcers. Studies have shown that Cineole can slow or stop the development of aspirin-induced and alcohol-induced stomach ulcers in lab animals. 
  5. Prevents colon cancer. Animal research in India shows Cardamom can fight cancer cells in three ways: 1. Reduces the inflammation that fuels cancer; 2. Stops cancer cells from dividing; and 3. kills cancer cells directly. 
  6. Lowers blood pressure.  In a study reported in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Cardamom lowered blood pressure in lab animals.  The study showed it worked like a diuretic-type drug used to treat hypertension. 
  7. Prevents blood clots. Research out of India shows it prevents blood clots by decreasing platelet aggregation, which is the platelet’s ability to adhere to one another to create a clot. 
  8. Relaxes the airways, restores breathing and can ease severe asthma. German research shows that Cineole in Cardamom may help some people with asthma reduce their need for steroids. 
  9. Offers relief from sinus infection. According to two German studies, Cineole relieves sinus headache, eases tender sinuses, reduces nasal secretions and decreases nasal obstruction. The researchers in The Laryngoscope recommend those with an acute sinus infection take a supplement of the spice extract before trying antibiotics. However, this decision is something you and your healthcare provider should make together. 

How to add Cardamom into your diet

The impressive list above is only part of the reason I love adding Cardamom to my cooking.  The other part is the unique taste.  Cardamom is delicious sprinkled in coffee or added to dandelion tea. It pairs well with allspice, almond, chili, cinnamon, clove coriander, cumin, fennel seed, ginger, mustard, star anise and turmeric.  Cardamom is pungent and best used sparingly. A sprinkle or two is usually just the right amount.  

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Yetta Blair, CFNC, CHCC

Yetta is a certified functional nutrition practitioner, holistic cancer coach and speaker. She studied whole-food, plant-based nutrition with T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. She is a food driven analyst and works with clients to help them use nutrition principles to solve the root causes of their health symptoms. She knows that functional nutrition is the answer to our current healthcare crisis, both for individuals and for society at large, and wants to inform as many people as she can of the power of food to heal. Her promise to clients - if you eat better, you will feel better.