It is a spice with an intense and slightly sweet flavor that some people liken to mint.
Its origin is from India, but it is available all over the world today and is used in sweet and savory recipes.
Cardamom seeds, oils and extracts are believed to have impressive medicinal properties and have been used in traditional medicine for centuries.
Here are 10 science-backed health benefits of cardamom
1. Antioxidant and diuretic properties can lower blood pressure
Cardamom can be helpful for people with high blood pressure .
In one study, researchers administered three grams of cardamom powder per day to 20 adults who had recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure.
After 12 weeks, blood pressure levels had dropped significantly to the normal range.
The promising results of this study may be related to the high levels of antioxidants in cardamom.
In fact, the antioxidant status of the participants had increased by 90% by the end of the study. Antioxidants have been linked to lower blood pressure.
Researchers also suspect that the spice may lower blood pressure due to its diuretic effect, which means that it can promote urination to remove water that collects in your body, for example around your heart.
Cardamom extract has been shown to increase urination and lower blood pressure in rats.
Cardamom can help lower blood pressure, most likely due to its antioxidant and diuretic properties.
2. May contain cancer-fighting compounds
The compounds in cardamom can help fight cancer cells .
Studies in mice have shown that cardamom powder can increase the activity of certain enzymes that help fight cancer.
The spice can also enhance the ability of natural killer cells to attack tumors.
In one study, researchers exposed two groups of mice to a compound that causes skin cancer and fed one group 500 mg of ground cardamom per kg (227 mg per pound) of weight per day.
After 12 weeks, only 29% of the group that ate the cardamom developed cancer, compared to more than 90% of the control group.
Research on human cancer cells and cardamom indicates similar results. One study showed that a certain compound in the spice prevented oral cancer cells in test tubes from multiplying.
Although the results are promising, these studies have only been carried out in mice or in test tubes. Human research is needed before stronger claims can be made.
Certain compounds in cardamom can fight cancer and stop tumor growth in mice and test tubes. Human research is needed to validate whether these results also apply to humans.
3. Can protect against chronic diseases thanks to anti-inflammatory effects
Cardamom is rich in compounds that can fight inflammation.
Inflammation occurs when your body is exposed to foreign substances. Acute inflammation is necessary and beneficial, but long-term inflammation can lead to chronic disease.
Antioxidants, found in abundance in cardamom, protect cells from damage and prevent inflammation from occurring.
One study found that cardamom extract in doses of 50-100 mg per kg (23-46 mg per pound) of body weight was effective in inhibiting at least four different inflammatory compounds in rats.
Another study in rats showed that eating cardamom powder decreased liver inflammation induced by a diet high in carbohydrates and fat.
Although there are not as many studies on the anti-inflammatory effects of cardamom in humans, research shows that supplements can increase antioxidant status by up to 90%.
The antioxidant compounds in cardamom can help protect cells from damage and slow down and prevent inflammation in your body.
4. It can help with digestive problems, even ulcers
Cardamom has been used for thousands of years to help with digestion.
It is often mixed with other medicinal spices to relieve discomfort, nausea, and vomiting.
The most researched property of cardamom, when it comes to relieving stomach problems, is its possible ability to heal ulcers.
In one study, rats were fed extracts of cardamom, turmeric, and sembung leaves in hot water before being exposed to high doses of aspirin to induce stomach ulcers. These rats developed fewer ulcers compared to rats that only received aspirin.
A similar study in rats found that cardamom extract alone could completely prevent or reduce the size of gastric ulcers by at least 50%.
In fact, at doses of 12.5 mg per kg (5.7 mg per pound) of body weight, cardamom extract was more effective than a common anti-ulcer medication.
The test tube research also suggests that cardamom may protect against Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria linked to the development of most stomach ulcers.
More research is needed to know if the spice would have the same effect against ulcers in humans.
Cardamom can protect against digestive problems and has been shown to reduce the number and size of stomach ulcers in rats.
5. It can treat bad breath and prevent cavities
Using cardamom to treat bad breath and improve oral health is an ancient remedy.
In some cultures, it is common to freshen your breath by eating whole cardamom pods after a meal.
The reason cardamom can lead to tiny, fresh breath may have to do with its ability to fight common oral bacteria.
One study found that cardamom extracts were effective in fighting five bacteria that can cause tooth decay. In some test tube cases, the extracts prevented the growth of bacteria by up to 0.82 inches (2.08 cm).
Additional research shows that cardamom extract can reduce the number of bacteria in saliva samples by 54%.
However, all of these studies were conducted in test tubes, so it is unclear how the results can be applied to humans.
Cardamom is often used to treat bad breath and is a component of some gum. This is because cardamom could kill common oral bacteria and prevent cavities.
6. May have antibacterial effects and treat infections
Cardamom also has antibacterial effects outside of the mouth and can treat infections.
Research shows that cardamom extracts and essential oils have compounds that fight several common strains of bacteria.
A test-tube study examined the impact of these extracts on drug-resistant strains of Candida, a yeast that can cause fungal infections. The extracts were able to inhibit the growth of some strains by 0.39-0.59 inches (0.99-1.49 cm).
Further research in test tubes found that essential oils and cardamom extracts were equal to, and sometimes more effective than standard drugs against E. coli and Staphylococcus, bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
Test tube studies have also shown that cardamom essential oils fight Salmonella bacteria that cause food poisoning and Campylobacter that contribute to stomach inflammation.
Existing studies on the antibacterial effects of cardamom have only analyzed isolated strains of bacteria in laboratories. Therefore, the evidence currently is not strong enough to state that the spice would have the same effect in humans.
Cardamom essential oils and extracts can be effective against a variety of bacterial strains that contribute to yeast infections, food poisoning, and stomach problems.
However, the research has only been carried out in test tubes and not in humans.
7. Can improve respiration and oxygenation process
The compounds in cardamom can help increase air flow to your lungs and improve breathing.
When used in aromatherapy, cardamom can provide an invigorating scent that enhances your body’s ability to use oxygen during exercise.
One study asked a group of participants to inhale cardamom essential oil for one minute before walking on a treadmill for 15 minutes. This group had significantly higher oxygen uptake compared to the control group.
Another way that cardamom can improve breathing and oxygen use is by relaxing the airways. This can be particularly helpful in treating asthma.
A study in rats and rabbits found that injections of cardamom extract could relax the passage of air in the throat. If the extract has a similar effect in people with asthma, it can prevent their inflamed airways from restricting and improving their breathing.
Cardamom can improve respiration by stimulating better oxygen uptake and relaxing the passage of air to the lungs in humans and animals.
8. May lower blood sugar levels
When taken in powder form, cardamom can lower blood sugar.
One study found that feeding rats a high-fat, high-carbohydrate (HFHC) diet caused their blood sugar levels to remain elevated longer than if they were fed a normal diet .
When rats on the HFHC diet were given cardamom powder, their blood sugar level did not remain elevated for longer than the blood sugar of rats on a normal diet.
However, the powder may not have the same effect in humans with type 2 diabetes.
In a study of more than 200 adults with this condition, participants were divided into groups that drank only black tea or black tea with three grams of cinnamon, cardamom, or ginger every day for eight weeks.
The results showed that cinnamon, but not cardamom or ginger, improved blood sugar control.
To better understand the effect of cardamom on blood sugar in humans, more studies are needed.
A study in rats suggests that cardamom may help lower high blood sugar levels, but more high-quality human studies are needed.
9. Other Potential Health Benefits of Cardamom
In addition to the aforementioned health benefits, cardamom can be beneficial to your health in other ways as well.
Studies in rats have found that the high levels of antioxidants in the spice can prevent liver enlargement, anxiety, and even aid in weight loss:
- Liver protection : Cardamom extract can lower elevated levels of liver enzymes, triglycerides, and cholesterol. They can also prevent liver enlargement and liver weight, reducing the risk of fatty liver disease.
- Anxiety: A study with rats suggests that cardamom extract can prevent anxious behaviors. This may be because low levels of antioxidants in the blood have been linked to the development of anxiety and other mood disorders.
- Weight loss : A study in 80 overweight and obese prediabetic women found a link between cardamom and slightly reduced waist circumference. However, weight loss and spice studies in rats have found no significant results.
The number of studies on the link between cardamom and these potential benefits is limited and conducted primarily in animals.
Also, the reasons the spice can help improve liver health, anxiety, and weight are unclear.
A limited number of studies suggest that cardamom supplements can decrease waist circumference and prevent anxious behaviors and fatty liver.
The reasons behind these effects are unclear, but they may have to do with the spice’s high antioxidant content.
10. Safe for most people and widely available
Cardamom is generally safe for most people.
The most common way to use cardamom is to cook or bake. It is very versatile and is often added to Indian curries and stews, as well as gingerbread cookies, bread, and other baked goods.
The use of cardamom supplements, extracts, and essential oils is likely to be more common in light of the promising results of research on their medicinal uses.
However, there is currently no recommended dosage for the spice as most of the studies have been in animals. The use of supplements should be monitored by a healthcare professional.
Also, cardamom supplements may not be suitable for children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Most supplements recommend 500 mg of cardamom powder or extract once or twice a day.
The FDA does not regulate supplements, so be sure to choose brands that have been tested by a third party if a healthcare provider recommends that you try cardamom supplements.
If you are interested in trying cardamom, remember that adding spices to your food may be the safest way.
Using cardamom in cooking is safe for most people. Cardamom supplements and extracts have not been thoroughly researched and should only be taken under the supervision of a healthcare provider.
The bottom line
Cardamom is an ancient remedy that can have many medicinal properties. It can lower blood pressure, improve breathing, and help you lose weight.
In addition, animal and test-tube studies show that cardamom can help fight tumors, improve anxiety, fight bacteria, and protect the liver, although the evidence in these cases is less strong.
However, there is little to no human research for a number of health claims associated with the spice. More studies are needed to show whether or how the preliminary research results apply to humans.
However, adding cardamom to your kitchen can be a safe and effective way to improve your health.
Cardamom extracts and supplements can also provide benefits, but should be taken with caution and under the supervision of a physician.