11 Evidence-Based Benefits of Cardamom

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

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Cardamom has antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps in protecting your heart from elevated cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Cardamom also helps manage diabetes and lower the risk of cancer and liver toxicity. It is used as a carminative for digestive problems as well. It helps alleviate oral health problems like cavities and bad breath.

What is Cardamom?

Cardamom is a spice found in the form of a small pod with black seeds inside. It belongs to the Zingiberaceae or the ginger family. 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.

The pods of Elettaria are small and light green in color, and the pods of Amomum are comparatively bigger and brown in color. Both of these are native to the Indian subcontinent.

Cardamom has been traditionally used in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine for many years.

While this article is about green cardamom, you can learn about black cardamom here.

What does cardamom taste like?

Green cardamom has an intensely sweet, minty, and savory flavor. 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 like coffee, and tea. It is regarded as the queen of spices and is the third-most-expensive spice after saffron and vanilla.

Watch Video: 10 Amazing Benefits of Cardamom

10 Amazing Benefits Of Cardamom | Organic Facts

Nutrition Facts

Spices, cardamom
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]8.28
Energy [kcal]311
Energy [kJ]1303
Protein [g]10.76
Total lipid (fat) [g]6.7
Ash [g]5.78
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
Copper, Cu [mg]0.38
Manganese, Mn [mg]28
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
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.68
14:0 [g]0.03
16:0 [g]0.57
18:0 [g]0.06
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.87
16:1 [g]0.02
18:1 [g]0.85
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.43
18:2 [g]0.31
18:3 [g]0.12
Phytosterols [mg]46
Sources include : USDA

Cardamom Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA Food Data Central, cardamom is a source of minerals such as iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and manganese. Other nutrients 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, that are important in preventing many chronic diseases.

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.

Antimicrobial Properties

Cardamom was regarded to possess infection-fighting properties.

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

This theory was tested in experiments with its extracts. The oils from cardamom were able to inhibit the growth and spread of dangerous microbes that may be a cause of food poisoning.

Studies have also suggested that cardamom has the potential to become an alternative therapy against antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

Heart Health

Cardamom may be protective against many heart conditions.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, when male albino rats were administered with 100-200 mg of cardamom extract, there was a significant improvement witnessed in their cardiac and left ventricular functions. This means that cardamom helped in regulating blood pressure in these rats.

Moreover, studies conducted on individuals with stage 1 hypertension also show that cardamom proved effective in reducing high blood pressure.

In an animal study published in the International Journal of Experimental Biology, antioxidant enzymes from cardamom were found to protect the heart from oxidation and control cholesterol levels despite a high-fat diet.

Anticancer 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 alternative medicine that is sustainable.

One such food with medicinal properties is cardamom and it may have anticancer potential.

According to a 2013 research paper published in the EXCLI Journal, 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.

Cardamom has also been found to have anti-proliferative activities against human oral cancer cells. The Journal of Medicinal Food published an animal study suggesting that cardamom has a chemopreventive effect on two-stage skin cancer.

Green cardamom pods on a wooden spoon

Green cardamom pods Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Digestive 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, a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology 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 is also found to have potential against Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium linked to stomach ulcers, says a study published in the Phytotherapy Research.

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, says a 2017 report published in the Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy Journal. Research has found these properties to be protective when inflammation and oxidative stress are a result of unhealthy weight and diet.

Health benefits of cardamom infographic

The cultivation of cardamom originated in India, Nepal, and Bhutan.

Blood Sugar Balance

Laboratory studies have found cardamom to help in regulating glucose and insulin metabolism.

According to a 2017 research, cardamom could improve “inflammation and oxidative stress in hyperlipidemic, overweight, and obese pre‐diabetic women”.

Mind and Relaxation

Cardamom is believed to possess anti-depressant properties. Its essential oil is one of the major oils used in aromatherapy and has been suggested in human research to be an effective choice for handling stressful conditions.

Also, a 2016 research published by a team of scientists has found cardamom extract to lower PTSD-like anxiety symptoms in test animals.

One study published in the Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences found that when cardamom was consumed by mice during pregnancy, their offsprings showed enhanced learning, memory, and behavior. However, more research is required to ascertain the benefits of cardamom on other kinds of behavior.

Oral Health

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, says research published in the Ethnobotanical Leaflets. It is also an ingredient in a traditional mouth rinse used to prevent dental plaque.

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

Respiratory Health

Cardamom has shown positive potential against asthma and other respiratory issues.

According to a study published in the Bangladesh Journal of Pharmacology, 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.

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 the blood from clogging vessels and leading to problems such as heart attack and stroke.

Prevents 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. Additionally, consuming cardamom powder was observed to lessen the severity of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, in a study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Other Uses and Benefits

  • Sore Throat: Cardamom steeped in boiling water is recommended as a morning gargling solution to control painful sore throats.
  • Aphrodisiac: 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.
  • Liver Health: Elevated cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and liver enzymes can likely be controlled with cardamom extracts. This extract is also likely to reduce the risk of fatty liver disease and prevent liver enlargement.

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.

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).

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

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. 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. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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