Cardamom or Elaichi is considered one of the most precious spices along with Saffron, Cinnamon, Cloves, and Vanilla all around the world. Apart from its amazing flavor, the health benefits of Cardamom are something you can not ignore for long. Ayurvedic and Ancient medicinal therapies use Cardamom extensively for health healing. For its rich taste and unique aroma, Cardamom is known as Queen Of Spices. Most of us must have enjoyed cardamom/elaichi flavor in Gulab Jamun, Kheer, Barfis, Halwa, and Biryani. Due to its pleasant fragrance, it is the most important ingredient in Indian Masala Chai. We are all very well versed with Cardamom culinary uses, now let us understand the Health Benefits Of Cardamom.
Introduction to Cardamom/Elaichi
Cardamom or Elaichi are the pods from several plants in the genera Elettaria and Amomum in the family Zingiberaceae. Both the genera are native to the Indian Subcontinent and Indonesia but are available worldwide. Cardamom or Elaichi is a spice with an intense and slightly sweet flavor. (1)
Various Names of Cardamom –
- Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Kashmiri Name – Elaichi
- Telugu and Tamil Name – Yelakkai
- Bengali Name – Elach
- Kannada Name – Yelakki
- Malayalam Name – Elathari
Importance of Cardamom/Elaichi in Ayurveda
Ayurvedic medicine uses cardamom extensively for healing because it is believed to help balance the three doshas in the human body, each of which impacts different elements of health.
- Kapha refers to the elements of water and earth and is the stabilizing energy that impacts the body fluid balance, stability, and structure of the body.
- Pitta refers to the elements of water and fire, and it is the transforming energy connected with metabolism, sweat functions, the endocrine system, and the digestive system.
- Vata refers to the elements of space and air, and it is the kinetic energy for body elimination, pathology, movement, circulation, and the nervous system.
Cardamom/Elaichi is believed to balance all the three – Kapha, Vata, and pitta doshas. (2)
Health benefits of cardamom/Elaichi
Health Benefit of Cardamom/Elaichi 1 – Good source of nutrients
1 tablespoon of ground cardamom has about 18 calories as well as plenty of nutrients. Cardamom has a notable source of choline which is crucial for DNA synthesis and producing the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Besides this, cardamom is also rich in minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc, and manganese which are essential for controlling heart rate, blood pressure and are an important component of blood fluid and cells. Cardamom also contains omega – 3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain health.
Nutrient Value of 100 grams of the edible portion of Cardamom/Elaichi
|Nutritional Parameters||Nutrient Value|
|Omega – 3 fatty acids||120mg|
Reference – Nutritive value of Indian Foods, 2016.
2. Health Benefit of Cardamom/ Elaichi 2 – Rich in Antioxidants
Many of the phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals present in cardamom act as an antioxidant. Free radicals can cause damage to the cell membrane, change the DNA structure, etc. This magical spice helps in cleaning the free radicals from our bodies. For example, cardamom is rich in manganese. It acts as a cofactor for the enzyme superoxide dismutase, which is a potent free radical scavenger. (3)
3. Health Benefit of cardamom/Elaichi 3 – Antibacterial and Anti-inflammatory property
Cardamom is used as a traditional remedy for controlling gastrointestinal discomfort due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Cardamom has an antibacterial effect to fight against salmonella, the bacteria that leads to food poisoning, and campylobacter, the bacteria that leads to stomach inflammation. Cardamom aids in relieving indigestion, nausea, gas, and burning sensation in the stomach. They also help in healing stomach ulcers.
Recent studies found that cardamon extract alone could completely prevent or reduce the size of gastric ulcers by 50 percent. So whenever you have stomach upset just pop up 2 cardamon pods and chew them. (4)
4. Health Benefit of Cardamom/Elaichi 4 – Acts as a mouth freshener
Do you know cardamon acts as a natural mouth freshener? Simply chewing on the seeds or drinking warm elaichi water can help to eliminate the bad odor of the mouth (Clinically known as Halitosis). Cardamom fights against the bacteria present in the mouth causing dental cavities and bad breath. It refreshes your breath. So forget chewing gum, go natural and try cardamom instead. Antimicrobial activity of Amomumsublatum and Elettariacardamomum fights against dental caries causing microorganisms. (5) (6)
5. Health Benefit of Cardamom /Elaichi 5– Reduces Blood pressure
Recent studies have demonstrated that cardamom effectively reduces blood pressure by enhancing Fibrinolysis ( a process that prevents forming a blood clot and maintains normal blood flow) and act as an antioxidant for type 1 hypertensive patient. Research shows that cardamom has a diuretic effect (helps to urinate the excess water) and keep the blood pressure under control. (7)
6. Health Benefit of Cardamom/Elaichi 6 – Used in aromatic therapy
The essential oil in cardamom has antiseptic, antidepressant, and antioxidant properties. Its oil is mainly used in aromatic therapy. Adding cardamom oil to bathing water helps to relieve stress, keeps skin healthy, and relaxes the body and mind.
Cardamom essential oil can be a great stress reliever when applied during a massage. The aromatherapy massage will help to work the tension and stress out of your muscles and it can also be beneficial for reducing inflammation and pain in joints and other areas of the body.
Try inhaling steam with two drops of cardamom oil and cinnamon oil in hot water to clear up blocked noses. (8)
7. Health Benefit of Cardamom/Elaichi 7 – Fights against cancer
A study from the British Journal of Nutrition found that cardamom contains a compound that is potent enough to kill cancer cells. A recent study indicates Bisabolene is one of the main components in cardamom which showed antiproliferative activities against human oral cancer. Quantitative phosphoproteomic analysis reveals y-bisabolene inducing p53 mediated apoptosis (programmed cell death of cancerous cell). (9) (10)
8. Health Benefit of Cardamom/ Elaichi 8 – Improves breathing and oxygen use
Cardamom may improve breathing by stimulating better oxygen uptake and relaxing air passage to the lungs. Cardamom is widely used in folk medicine for the treatment of asthma. One of the studies indicated that cardamom exhibits a bronchodilator effect which provides a strong reason for medicinal use in asthma. (11)
9. Health Benefit of Cardamom/Elaichi 9 – Helps in maintaining a healthy heart and liver
Studies have proved that cardamom has a protective effect on the heart and liver. Animal study suggests Cardamom may help to maintain normal levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the body and thus can prevent atherosclerosis. Cardamom extract also helps in decreasing the elevated level of liver enzymes, prevents liver enlargement, may control liver weight by reducing the risk of fatty liver. (12)
10. Health Benefit of Cardamom/Elaichi 10 – Good Aphrodisiac
If you are looking for a natural stimulant to improve your sex life, Cardamom is a great option to consider. Unlike drugs that can have many negative side effects, cardamom or elaichi is a safe and natural remedy that can help to fight sexual dysfunction. Holistic practitioners recommend Cardamom for men having problems with impotency and premature ejaculation. Cardamom improves men health. Additionally, the spice gives you extra energy, helps to strengthen the body, and stimulates the senses. (13)
How to add Cardamom or Elaichi to your diet?
One of the most effective ways to get more cardamom in your diet is to look for small ways to add this spice to your daily food preparation. Here are a few ideas to include cardamom or elaichi in your day to day life :
- Add cardamom to Indian dishes such as curry, masala, and dal.
- Enhance hot beverages such as coffee or tea with a bit of cardamom, either added to the powder or leaves before brewing or sprinkled into the beverage after brewing.
- Add Cardamom to breads or desserts, to bring an exotic flavor.
- Sprinkle ground cardamom over fresh fruit or fruit salad to give an exotic flair.
- Add Cardamom in homemade garam masala, curry masala, Indian Chai masala, and Sambhar powder.
Cardamom or Elaichi Recipes for health benefits
1.Cardamom or Elaichi for Digestion: Try Digestive Tea for digestive problems.
Recipe: Steep Cardamom seeds, coriander seeds, whole cloves, and fresh ginger in hot water. Sieve and add a teaspoon of honey for added benefits. Take sip by sip of this cardamom digestive tea for better digestion and absorption.
2. Cardamom or Elaichi for Nausea: Swallow a small amount of cardamom powder with a glass of water. The soothing oils in the spice will help calm the stomach and reduce associated spasms, acidity, and pain.
3. Cardamom or Elaichi for Bad breath (Halitosis): Try homemade Mukhawas ( Mouth Freshener) or chew two pods of elaichi or cardamom to fix bad breath problem. Pods not only release a spicy aroma that quiets bad breath but also stimulate the production of saliva, helping to wash away bacteria that may be responsible for unpleasant odors.
Cardamom’s antioxidant properties can help boost health, eliminating the toxins responsible for bad breath.
4. Cardamom or Elaichi for Immunity: Try Cardamom Immune Booster Tea for building Immunity.
Recipe 1: Steep four cardamom pods, four black peppercorns, one cinnamon stick, four whole cloves, and a small piece of fresh ginger in two and a half cups water in a small saucepan over low heat for 30 minutes. Don’t allow the mixture to come to a boil. When steeped, strain out the spices and add two teaspoons of honey to the tea. Have this tea as a mid-morning beverage.
Recipe 2: Combine orange ( 2 slices), Cinnamon (1 teaspoon), Cardamom powder ( 2 teaspoons), Cloves (4) and place it immediately into 1 liter of fresh water. Infuse and chill for 8-12 hours in the refrigerator before drinking. Serve in a glass with ice(Ice is optional). This chilled orange cardamom drink is perfect for good health.
5. Cardamom or Elaichi for sore throat: Try sore throat gargle water for getting relief from throat pain.
Recipe: Mix equal parts of cardamom powder and cinnamon with a glass of warm water and use the infusion as a gargle. Be sure to spit the solution out rather than swallow it to prevent stomach upset. Do this gargle twice a day to get faster relief.
6. Hiccup remedy cardamom tea: Hiccups usually don’t need special treatment but sometimes longer hiccups can be annoying. This cardamom tea can help you to stop hiccups and other muscle spasms like restless leg syndrome as well as intestinal, abdominal, and menstrual cramps.
Recipe of Hiccup Tea – Muddle a few Cardamom pods in a mortar and pestle to release their aroma and boil them along with 5-6 mint leaves in a cup of water. Allow the tea to cool down to room temperature before drinking.
Green or black -which cardamom to use?
Cardamom is widely grown in Southern parts of India. Green cardamom comes from the species Elettariacardamomum. Black cardamom comes from the species Amomumsubulatum. Although green cardamom or choti elaichi is more commonly used in cooking, moti elaichi or black cardamom also lends an intense flavor in any preparation.
Green or black- feel free to use any of the species in regular cooking as both have mostly similar health benefits. A little amount is enough to impart the flavor. Instead of using powdered cardamom, crush the seeds and use them fresh during cooking.
How much Cardamom/Elaichi is safe to consume?
Like any other Spices, Cardamom or Elaichi must be consumed in moderation. 1.5 grams of grounded cardamom powder/Elaichi powder or 2 Cardamom pods are safe to consume every day. Chew them as mouth fresheners or use them in cooking – the choice is yours.
How to buy Cardamom/Elaichi ?
1. Try to buy fresh cardamom pods and grind freshly before using them.
2. If you can afford and have access to organically grown cardamoms or elaichi go for it.
3. Cardamom pods are easily available in all grocery stores and e-commerce platforms.
4. If you are buying it loose just scratch the top layer of cardamom, with a fingertip, if it is a fresh one it will release the aroma of the oils. If there is no scent, the pods aren’t fresh and you should avoid purchasing them.
5. In India 50 grams of Cardamom will cost 200- 300 rupees depending on the brand.
How to store Cardamom or Elaichi?
- Cardamom pods or Elaichi can be stored for up to a year if you use the right storage technique.
- Be sure to use an airtight container and keep it in a dry, cool place, away from direct sunlight. Grounded cardamom powder can be stored for very long because it quickly loses its potency and aroma.
- Please check for mold growth and rotting before using the cardamom.
Side effects of Cardamom or Elaichi
- Using cardamom or elaichi in moderation while cooking will not cause any side effects.
- In case of pregnancy and gall stones problem, one must avoid larger doses of cardamom powder.
- Few people show allergic reactions to cardamom which cause hives and skin swelling. In such a case, Cardamom must be completely avoided.
- If you are taking medications for any ailment discuss with your dietitian or physician before including cardamom in your diet to fix health issues.
There are numerous health benefits of using cardamom on regular basis.
Scientific studies have also proved the antioxidant, antibacterial, and health-promoting properties of this queen spice called Cardamom/Elaichi. Remember that you don’t need to wait until a health problem has occurred before you start using cardamom for its health benefits. This spice has powerful healing properties that can be very beneficial for overall health and wellness. And to top it off, it has a delicious taste that adds a unique flavor to your meals.
About the author –
Vandana Kondepudi has done her postgraduation in Dietetics and Nutrition from SNDT Women University Mumbai. She has presented the thesis on dietary diagnosis in cardiovascular diseases and cancer. She worked as a nutritionist in a survey conducted by the government organization of Mumbai. She also worked as a dietitian at Talwalkars Mumbai.