Cardamom: Are There Health Benefits?

An enticing addition to several foods and beverages, cardamom complements sweet and savory dishes alike. Although not as popular as cinnamon or ginger, this versatile spice is beloved for its intriguing flavor, which is undeniably sweet but features an herbal edge and notes of pine.

Native to India, cardamom has long been sought after across the globe. In ancient Egypt, its seeds served as an early form of toothpaste and mouthwash. It also made its way to the great civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome, where it was primarily used as a perfume.

Historians disagree as to the origins of cardamom in Scandinavia, where it remains popular for baking to this day. Many believe that the Vikings first came across cardamom in Constantinople. Others credit the Moors with introducing the spice. 

Today, cardamom is primarily cultivated in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Guatemala. Although its popularity is on the rise in many regions, it is mainly consumed in the Middle East as an addition to baked goods, meats, and tea.

Nutrition Information

Cardamom offers an excellent opportunity to add flavor to foods and beverages while limiting calories and fat.

It's a great source of:

A teaspoon of ground cardamom contains:

  • 6 calories
  • Less than 1 gram of protein
  • Less than 1 gram of fat
  • 1 gram of carbohydrates
  • 1 gram of fiber

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Potential Health Benefits of Cardamom

Cardamom provides a low-calorie way of adding flavor to a variety of dishes. It can make several types of vegetables tastier, which may make it more likely that you'd get their health benefits.

Cardamom can also:

Help your teeth. Chewing cardamom seeds can alter the mouth's pH levels and help your body make more saliva. This helps keep your mouth moist and protects you against dental health issues like cavities. At the very least, cardamom serves as an effective breath freshener.

Make diabetes less likely. Cardamom can ease inflammation and protect your cells against something called oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants that can lead to a number of medical issues.

It can also help your body handle insulin better.

Keep your blood pressure healthy. Research suggests regular use of cardamom fruit powder can lower blood pressure. This can make things like heart attacks and strokes less likely.

Potential Risks of Cardamom

When you have amounts of cardamom that are typical in food, there are not any documented risks. However, larger amounts of cardamom could cause pain if you have gallstones. We also need more research to determine the effects of large amounts of cardamom on women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Talk to your doctor if you're considering taking cardamom as a supplement.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on December 03, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics: "Blood Pressure Lowering, Fibrinolysis Enhancing and Antioxidant Activities of Cardamom."

International Journal of Pharma Sciences and Research: "Effect of Chewing Fennel and Cardamom Seeds on Dental Plaque and Salivary pH—A Randomized Controlled Trial."

Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders: "The effect of cardamom supplementation on serum lipids, glycemic indices and blood pressure in overweight and obese pre-diabetic women: A randomized controlled trial."

U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodData Central: "Cardamom."

Mahady, G. B., Pendland, S. L., Stoia, A., Hamill, F. A., Fabricant, D., Dietz, B. M., and Chadwick, L. R. In vitro susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to botanical extracts used traditionally for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. Phytother.Res 2005;19(11):988-991.

University of Rochester Medical Center: “Cardamom Nutrition Facts.”

National Institutes of Health: "Oxidative Stress: Harms and Benefits for Human Health."

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