Cardamom which is one of the world’s oldest spices is made from the seeds of Elettaria cardamomum, a herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family. It is native to the Indian subcontinent and Indonesia, but now it is also being grown and cultivated in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Guatemala which is now the leading producer of this precious spice. Cardamoms are a very popular seasoning in many dishes. This spice has a strong aroma with a fruity, piney, and minty flavor which is being enjoyed by many food enthusiasts and chefs, particularly those who are fond of South Asian dishes.
History and Tradition of Cardamon Pods
The use of cardamom can be traced back to ancient times where it was highly priced as medicine in India, Babylon, and Assyria. Its popularity spread to many parts of the ancient world, which included Egypt, where it was used for medicinal purposes and as a prime ingredient for the preparation of oils which were needed in the mummification process. It also played a role in the dental health of the people back then since its seeds were used as a tooth cleaner.
The Greeks, whose view of medicine incorporated both physical and mental wellbeing, treasured this spice for its therapeutic properties. In fact, it was very popular in Greece and Rome that the cardamom trade developed into a luxury business. Both the Greeks and Romans greatly valued this herb for its strong aroma. Thus, aside from its medicinal use, they used it for perfumes, aromatic oils, ointments, and food.
The popularity of cardamoms did not only remain in ancient times. The Vikings who were a seafaring people, famous for being explorers, warriors, and traders, brought the said herb to Scandinavia, where it is now widely used in baking.
Health Benefits of Cardamoms
Cardamoms are currently one of the most sought-after spices. They are flavorful, intensely aromatic, and highly nutritious. Below are the possible benefits one may get from this herb:
- It can help increase blood circulation
It has anti-inflammatory properties which help decrease inflammation in the blood vessels. Thus, it can help improve circulation.
- It may help treat hypertension
Cardamom herb can help relax blood vessel walls. It increases urine volume, excretes excess sodium and potassium ions, and decreases the blood pressure.
- It may improve breathing and oxygen use
The compounds found in cardamom may help increase the airflow to the lungs and improve breathing. Since it is a good anti-inflammatory, it may relieve inflamed airways and relax the throat air passage. Inhaling cardamom essential oil may also increase oxygen uptake during exercise.
- It is a natural aphrodisiac
Poor blood flow to the reproductive organs affects a person’s ability to have sexual intercourse. Cardamom is high in cineole and can help increase blood flow.
- It may be good for the mental health
Because of its aromatic power, cardamom may ease stress, anxiety, and depression. It is also high in antioxidants which can help protect brain cells from free radical damage.
- It is good for the digestive health
Cardamom may help control gastrointestinal discomforts such as flatulence, acidity, and stomach cramps. This herb may give relief to patients with gastric ulcers. When mixed with other medicinal herbs, it can help relieve discomfort, nausea, and vomiting.
- It may lower the risk of liver diseases
Extracts from cardamom may decrease cholesterol levels, triglyceride, and liver enzymes. It helps reduce the risk of fatty liver disease by preventing liver enlargement. This herb may also help in lowering the effects of toxicity or damage caused by antibiotics.
- It helps maintain oral health
The cardamom herb is rich in antibacterial properties which is the reason why it can help maintain oral health. Its extract is known to have the ability to reduce bacteria in the saliva and fight five types of bacteria that can cause dental cavities.
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