The culinary world is full of astoundingly flavourful elements. One of the core types of ingredients used in a plethora of recipes is spices. Cooking with spices is central to the eastern cuisines of the world. These spices not only elevate a dish in terms of unique flavours but also add to its nutritional value. The spices are typically dried forms of a part of a plant. They can either be used as a whole or can be powdered before adding to a dish.
One of the most magical spices found in almost every kitchen in the east is cardamom. Believed to have its origin in India, cardamom has become increasingly popular in the rest of the world. Western countries have also begun to grasp just how beneficial this simple spice is. Typically used in the preparation of desserts, cardamom is also extensively used in dishes such as curries, biryanis, or even hot beverages like tea and coffee.
Besides enhancing the flavour, cardamom greatly contributes to adding nutritional value to a dish. Here are a few benefits as follows:
- Antimicrobial and Antibacterial Properties
Cardamom is a power-packed spice. Research suggests that it shows high activity against undesirable microbes. This antimicrobial activity can make cardamom an ingredient for countering microbes. The essential oil of cardamom is also believed to be able to damage specific bacteria by targeting their cell membrane. This antibacterial property makes it an effective tool for killing certain fungi and bacteria.
- Cardiac Health
Cardamom is rich in antioxidants. This makes it a promising measure to improve the cardiac health of a person. Research on this correlation is underway but early results show that cardamom can effectively help regulate the levels of cholesterol in one’s body. The presence of antioxidants also makes this spice a possible preventive measure against the risks of a heart attack.
- Oral Hygiene and Health
Cardamom has popularly been used as a mouth freshener throughout history. This is not only because it has a pleasing flavour but also because its antibacterial nature helps counter bacteria that cause cavities, foul breath, or gum disease. Chewing seeds of cardamom for up to 5 minutes is an effective measure for maintaining a balanced level of pH in one’s mouth. Maintaining this balance is vital to the prevention of cavities.
- Detox Properties
The anti-inflammatory, antibacterial properties of cardamom are believed to act as detoxifying agents. Although further research is necessary, current information at hand suggests that the detox properties of cardamom, as explained in Ayurveda, can greatly help in maintaining the health of the liver.
- Fighting Cancer
The presence of phytochemicals makes this spice a helpful substance if one is battling cancer. Of course, cardamom cannot replace elaborate treatment plans for cancer, it can effectively help the body fight tumors.
- Preventing Ulcers
Cardamom is a popular ingredient in the preparation of hot beverages such as tea. One of the primary reasons for this is because it helps counter digestion-related ailments. A soothing cardamom tea not only de-stresses the mind but also helps in the prevention of ulcers. The nutritional composition of cardamom is such that it can serve the body with vitamins, minerals as well as fibre in varying quantities. Potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and iron are some of the minerals found in this spice.
Thus, cardamom is truly a magical spice that is as nutritious as it is flavorful and aromatic. Cardamom is also known as elaichi and can be purchased in the market in several forms such as essential oil, whole pods, ground and powdered cardamom, or even capsules, which are used as herbal supplements.
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