11 Evidence-Based Benefits of Cardamom

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Ossie Sharon (MS, RD)

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The health benefits of cardamom include gastrointestinal protection, cholesterol control, anti-cancer properties, relief from cardiovascular issues, and improvement of blood circulation in the body. It is useful for curing digestive problems, dental diseases, and urinary tract infections such as cystitis, nephritis, and gonorrhea. Cardamom possesses aphrodisiac properties and is also used as a cure for impotence, erectile dysfunction, and premature ejaculation.

What is Cardamom?

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is a spice found in the form of a small pod with black seeds inside. The spice has an intensely sweet and savory taste. Both the seeds and the pod have a rich aroma and are often used in desserts, hot and spicy dishes, as well as aromatic beverages, coffees, and teas. It is regarded as the queen of spices and is one of the most expensive spices, ranking third, the first and second being saffron and vanilla, respectively.

The cultivation of cardamom originated in India, Nepal, and Bhutan. In India, cardamom was traditionally considered as a therapeutic herb and was one of those applied in Ayurveda (the ancient Indian science of medicine and lifestyle). It is also used in traditional Chinese medicine. It was believed to be a remedy for constipation, colic, diarrhea, dyspepsia, vomiting, headache, hypertension (high blood pressure), epilepsy, and cardiovascular diseases, including poor circulation.

Watch Video: 10 Amazing Benefits Of Cardamom

Nutrition Facts

Spices, cardamom
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]8.28
Energy [kcal]311
Protein [g]10.76
Total lipid (fat) [g]6.7
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]68.47
Fiber, total dietary [g]28
Calcium, Ca [mg]383
Iron, Fe [mg]13.97
Magnesium, Mg [mg]229
Phosphorus, P [mg]178
Potassium, K [mg]1119
Sodium, Na [mg]18
Zinc, Zn [mg]7.47
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]21
Thiamin [mg]0.2
Riboflavin [mg]0.18
Niacin [mg]1.1
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.23
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]0
Vitamin A, IU [IU]0
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.68
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.87
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.43
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Cardamom Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, cardamom is a notable source of minerals such as iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and particularly manganese. Other nutrients present at lower levels include calcium, potassium, the B-vitamin pyridoxine, and vitamin C. Cardamom also contains small amounts of protein, dietary fiber, and key fatty acids. Most impressive of all, cardamom contains natural compounds with antioxidant properties, the latter being important in disease prevention and management.

Health Benefits of Cardamom

Cardamom has been promoted in traditional medicine and suggested in medical research to have several powerful health benefits. The most popular are listed below.

Anti-cancer Potential

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death around the world. The rising cost of conventional cancer therapy and the subsequent side effects have encouraged researchers to look for alternatives that are sustainable. Anti-cancer potential has long been attributed to cardamom and its active components and corroborated by laboratory and animal research. In the latter, a combination of cardamom and cinnamon was found to be helpful in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer by 48%, in large part by enhancing antioxidant activity in the body.

Green cardamom pods on a wooden spoon

Heart and Metabolic Health

Cardamom was observed to be protective against heart inflammation due to viral infection and heart attack due to medication overdose in animal tests. The potential benefit for blood pressure was observed in studies on animals and humans with hypertension.

Compounds found in cardamom may also counteract increases in harmful blood cholesterol, blood and liver fat, and heart damage in response to poor diet while enhancing levels of “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. In animal experiments, antioxidant enzymes from cardamom were found to protect the heart from oxidation and to control cholesterol levels despite diets high fat or cholesterol. In obesity due to a high-carbohydrate diet, cardamom was found to reduce weight gain and associated metabolic damage to the body.

Blood Sugar Balance

Laboratory and animal studies found cardamom to contribute anti-diabetic effects and regulation of glucose and insulin metabolism. These findings followed earlier research that identified compounds in cardamom that may promote healthy glucose and insulin metabolism.

Research in humans showed that cardamom could improve some of the negative effects of pre-diabetics, suggesting it might be useful in reducing complications.

Mind and Relaxation

Cardamom is believed to possess anti-depressant properties. Its essential oil is one of the major oils used in anti-stress aromatherapy and has been suggested in human research to be an effective choice for handling stressful conditions. Also, research has found cardamom extract to lessen PTSD-like anxiety symptoms in test animals. One study found that when cardamom was consumed during pregnancy, offspring showed enhanced learning, memory, and behavior.

Gastrointestinal Health

Cardamom has been traditionally used in Ayurveda, Chinese medicine and the Unani system as a remedy for digestive problems. The methanolic extract from cardamom is the component that helps in controlling gastrointestinal discomforts such as acidity, flatulence, and stomach cramps. In an effort to provide scientific backing to traditional use, studies concluded that the extracted volatile oils from a certain type of cardamom may have a positive influence on gastrointestinal disorders. A similar benefit was observed from another type of cardamom. Cardamom as also found to have potential against Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium linked to stomach ulcers and related cancer.

Antimicrobial Properties

In contrast to ancient herbal treatments against harmful bacteria, modern “conventional” antibiotics have been found to produce side effects such as inhibition of important friendly probiotic bacteria living in the intestines. While spices may not be as consistently powerful, they inhibit only infectious microbes, not beneficial probiotics.

For millennia, cardamom was thought to possess infection-fighting properties. This theory was tested in experiments with its extracts. The oils from cardamom were able to inhibit the growth and spread of some of the very dangerous microbes that regularly cause food poisoning or that linked to skin, bladder, and blood infections. Studies have also suggested the potential benefit of cardamom against antibiotic-resistant infection, the latter being an increasing threat in the modern world.

Anti-spasmodic & Anti-inflammatory Properties

Certain cardamom compounds have been observed in research to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, including those supportive of a healthy immune system. Research has found these properties to be protective when inflammation and oxidative stress are a result of unhealthy weight and diet.

Dental Care

Cardamom has been used in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine for dealing with dental problems for many centuries. Research has verified the presence of antimicrobial properties in cardamom targeting common bacteria linked to cavities. It is also an ingredient in a traditional mouth rinse used to prevent dental plaque.

Lung Health

Cardamom has shown positive potential against asthma and other respiratory issues. It was shown to be effective in opening closed windpipes in laboratory animals, as well as protection against inhalation injury in the lungs of mice.

Health benefits of cardamom - infographic

Blood Circulation

In traditional therapies like aromatherapy, cardamom has been said to improve blood circulation to the lungs and was therefore used for symptoms of asthma and bronchitis. Cardamom aromatherapy was also linked to reduced stress in a human study, a benefit attributed to its enhancing blood and therefore oxygen circulation in the body.

The spice extract was found to have components that may protect blood from clogging vessels and leading to problems such as heart attack and stroke.

Nausea & Vomiting

Traditionally, cardamom has been used as a remedy for nausea. It may be able to calm sensations of nausea and urge to vomit. Aromatherapy with inhalation of its oils has been shown in research to relieve nausea due to chemotherapy in cancer patients with cancer. Consuming its powder was observed to lessen the severity of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.

Other Uses and Benefits

Sore Throat

Cardamom steeped in boiling water is recommended as a morning gargling solution to control painful sore throats. This is suggested due to antibacterial and immune-supporting properties.

Aphrodisiac Properties

Cardamom was traditionally believed to possess aphrodisiac properties. Not only that, but it was also used against impotence, likely due to benefits for blood circulation.

Treating Urinary Disorders

In Ayurveda, cardamom has been used as a remedy for urinary tract diseases and kidney disorders such as cystitis, nephritis, and bleeding, as well as gonorrhea.

Hiccups

Hiccups are spasms in the tissue just below the lungs and can occur as a result of laughing, an awkward swallow, or other conditions. Cardamom infusion is recommended as a remedy, made by boiling the spice powder in water for an extended time to concentrate the active components.

Breath Freshener

Cardamom pods and seeds are chewed as a breath freshener, and its essential oil is a popular ingredient in chewing gum.

Types of Cardamom

In botanical terms, cardamom belongs to the family of Zingiberaceae. There are two main types or subspecies of this spice. Their scientific names are Elettaria, green or true cardamom, and Amomum, which represents black, white, or red cardamom.

While cardamom originated in India, today it is available in most tropical places in Asia, including India, Sri Lanka, China, Bhutan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Korea, and Japan, as well as in Guatemala (Central America) and Tanzania (Africa).

Indian Cardamom

The Spices Board of India recognizes three varieties of cardamom, which include the Malabar, Mysore and Vazhukka varieties. There is another variety, named Njallani, which has become very popular along with the three normal varieties. This variety was developed by a small farmer named Sebastian Joseph from the Idukki district in Kerala.

Culinary Uses 

Cardamom is used as a flavoring spice in Indian cuisine. Its use is just not just limited to hot and spicy dishes; the seeds are also added to desserts and beverages to complement the sweet flavor. Cardamom tea is a famous beverage, along with ginger tea, in India. It is often added to coffee in the Middle East.

So go ahead and make sure you keep this aromatic and beneficial spice on hand!

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve is a health and wellness enthusiast and started working on Organic Facts since 2012 and is currently responsible for managing it. She follows naturopathy and believes in healing with foods. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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