Have you ever tried this wonderful green powder, referred to in Ayurveda as ‘the queen of spices‘?
Well if you already have, thumbs up, and if you haven’t read on about the amazing health benefits of cardamom, and hopefully it’ll inspire you to buy some next time you walk past your spice isle.
I dare you adding a teaspoon of yummy cardamom into your morning coffee (I recommend adding a bit of cinnamom too)!
Or try it on sweet stewed fruit (apples, pears, bananas), in baking (cardamom cookie recipe here), or in savoury dishes such as curries.
There are actually two types of cardamom: the one most commonly known and used here in the West are the green pods, but there’s also black cardamom.
Green and black cardamom are actually from the same plant family. Green cardamom is harvested before it reaches maturity and the pods are often used whole. Black cardamom is dried for longer and the seeds are extracted.
Green cardamom is more often used to flavour sweet dishes and black cardamom is used for a more pungent flavour in savoury dishes.
Although used in the West, cardamom is mainly used in India & Middle Eastern cusines in desserts, tea and coffee for its sweet flavour. People from India often chew on the pods after a meal for its breath freshening properties!
- Cardamom can clear toxin built up (called Ama in Ayurveda) from the body:
Toxins can block internal circulation and reduce energy levels, which can cause illness and disease. Cardamom’s warming and detoxifying effects aid in reducing the accumulation of these toxins, and guide them gently out of the body. This is called a diuretic effect (helps the body elimate waste through the kidneys).
- Cardamom has a very high antioxidant capacity:
studies have shown that cardamom protects cells from free radical damage that can cause inflammation & premature aging.
- Supports respiratory health:
Cardamom can soothe coughs and colds by lubricating the respiratory pathways (drink that warming chai tea when you have a cold!)
- Aids digestion. Reduces indigestion, gas and bloating:
Many studies have shown its great benefits in reducing stomach ulcers by stimulating the secretion of digestive enzymes. Great to drink in a tea (or chew on the seeds) after a meal. It makes heavy and acidic foods much easier to digest. In middle eastern societies coffee is often brewed with some cardamom to offset the negative effects of the acidic coffee (and increases flavours).Try it out! Cardamom also supports healthy cholesterol & tryglyceride levels as well as helping the body to burn fat more effectively.
- Antibacterial & antimicrobial:
The essential oils found in cardamom have shown to support good oral health. They fight bad breath and aid in healing mouth ulcers. Furthermore studies have shown that cardamom extracts are very effective against bacterial infections such as strepptococus mutans and candida albicans (a common yeast infection that can cause numerous digestive issues and leaky gut).
- Supports kidney & bladder health:
Due to its diuretic effect, cardamom supports cleansing toxins from the urinary tract, kidneys and bladder.
- Supports healthy blood glucose levels:
Cardamom is a rich source of manganese, which can play a role in managing blood sugar levels.
- Gives a good night sleep:
having trouble sleeping? Try adding half a teaspoon of cardamom to a mug of warm plant milk and maybe some honey before bed-time. Warm milk with cardamom has been shown to support a more restful night sleep.
- Cancer fighting compounds:
Many studies have shown that cardamom can increase the activity of enzymes that help to fight certain cancers. Furthermore, it has been found that the body’s natural ability to attack tumours was increased. An interesting study: Researchers exposed 2 groups of mice to a compound that causes skin cancer and fed one group a diet that also consisted of 500mg cardamom per day. 29% of the cardamom group and a whopping 90% of the control group (no cardamom) developed skin cancer!
High in antioxidants, cardamom protects cells from damage & stops inflammation from occuring.
the calming effects of cardamom still haven’t been officially studied, but many ancient traditions such as Ayurvda swear that cardamom has very calmig effects on the nervous system and can therefor be a great healing addition for someone who suffers from depression.
Cooking with cardamom:
Ground cardamom is probably the most used and sugested in recipes: add powdered cardamom directly to recipes that call for cardamom. However, to really get the most cardamom flavour, your best off using cardamom pods.
Simply get some cardamom pods (as in the picture above), and simply open the pods with a small sharp knife and remove the small black seeds.
You can then grind the seeds in a pestle and mortar for best results, or you can use a motorized spice grinder (a coffee grinder works really well).
Hot tipp: toast the green cardamom pods over a dry killet for a few minutes to bring out the flavour, then remove the seeds after.
If adding cardamom seeds to your coffee or other hot drinks, simply grind three to four cardamom seeds and add to a drink of your choice. Alternatively, simply use ground cardamom, between 1/4 tsp and up to a full teaspoon (adjust to your taste!)
In Ayurveda, herbs and spices are classified by their qualities, tastes and actions that they have on the body and the mind.
Tri-doshic. Balances Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Although cardamom is considered tri-doshic (balancing for all 3 doshas) , those with a Pitta imbalance should use it slightly more sparingly as it can also be heating in quality
(i.e. warms up the body which can be too much for a very strong Pitta person).
Mobile, light, clear, dry, warming.