Wellness Encyclopedia: Cardamom

If there’s a time of year just begging for something warm and spicy to heat things up… this would be it.

This past weekend I traveled North for a preemptive holiday of sorts, gathering in the collective glow of family while some much-needed snow fell in a white curtain outside. While warm feelings may have lived within, the temperature on the other side of the door was anything but cozy, ringing in at a soul shattering -10 degrees (and that’s not counting wind chill! Brrr…). If there’s a time of year just begging for something warm and spicy to heat things up… this would be it. Soothing cinnamon, energizing ginger, immunity-boosting turmeric, and zesty cardamom… it’s no coincidence these flavors come into the limelight this time of year, and it’s not just for the holidays. With cold weather comes colds, flu, poor circulation, and compromised immune systems, a confluence of issues just waiting to knock you down. Besides eating your oranges and washing your hands, adding warming spices like cardamom to your winter health routine will boost your immunity while warming your up from the inside out. Today I’m sharing all the benefits of cardamom — what it is, how to use it, and most importantly, the benefits. Read on to learn more, then scroll down to find a super simple — and highly giftable! — recipe, perfect for adding a little sweetness to even the coldest of days.

What is it? Native to locales such as India, Pakistan, Nepal, Malaysia and Bhutan, cardamom resides in the same family as ginger, which accounts for its many benefits and mild yet spicy flavor. The spice you see on market shelves is created by crushing the seeds, which are housed in small oblong pods with papery husks. Traditionally used in Ayurvedic healing and Chinese medicine, cardamom is a widely popular spice and often used for flavoring everything from sweet and savory dishes, to teas, desserts and spicy recipes. Though it boasts similar benefits to its cousins ginger and turmeric, cardamom deserves a place all its own thanks to its many unique and beneficial qualities.

What are the benefits? Brimming with vitamins and micronutrients, such as riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, vitamin A, vitamin C… (and more), cardamom is a powerful antioxidant capable of boosting the entire system. Cardamom has been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria and viruses, especially in the mouth. Because of this, cardamom has been shown to be effective in treating halitosis and stale breath, and can help in the treatment of gingivitis and other mouth diseases. The volatile oil present in cardamom has been shown to aid in digestion and soothe upset stomach – even just smelling cardamom can have a healing effect, similar to that of ginger. Cardamom helps the body detox by moving waste through the kidneys more efficiently, and has been shown to aid in the elimination of kidney stones. If blood clots, poor circulation or high blood pressure are of concern, cardamom aids all three, preventing blood clots and lowering blood pressure while improving circulation. The antioxidants present in cardamom neutralize free radicals and slow the signs of aging — just one more reason to add this spice to your life!

How do I use it? Bad breath? Chewing cardamom seeds freshens breath and kills the bacteria that causes halitosis. Simply chew the seeds or small seed pods after a meal or when your breath needs a refresh. Cardamom tea is another great way to harness the benefits of this warming spice — be sure to try our recipe for homemade masala chai! Cardamom can also be added to a variety of recipes — sweet, savory or spicy!

Spiced Cardamom Honey

Ingredients:

½ cup liquid raw honey

Seeds from 4 cardamom pods, crushed

¼ tsp whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half

Optional: 3-4 pieces sliced or candied ginger

Small 4oz Ball jar with lid

Combine all ingredients in the 4 oz. Ball jar. Cover and allow to infuse at least 1 week.

To use: Stir a teaspoon or two into tea, or recipes that need a little sweetening, to harness the healing power of cardamom.

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Tip: This recipe makes a perfect last-minute holiday gift. Simply increase the measurements evenly to make as many as you need!

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This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease or issue. 
Please seek your doctor’s advice for any questions regarding a specific condition and before beginning any exercise, diet or health-related regimen.

 

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