10 health benefits of cardamom, according to science
Cardamom is a spice with an intense, slightly sweet flavor that some people compare to mint. It originated in India but is available worldwide today and used in both sweet and savory recipes.
The seeds, oils and extracts of cardamom are thought to have impressive medicinal properties and have been used in traditional medicine for centuries.
Here are 10 health benefits of cardamom, backed by science.
1- Antioxidant and Diuretic Properties May Lower Blood Pressure
Cardamom may be helpful for people with high blood pressure.
In one study, researchers gave three grams of cardamom powder a day to 20 adults who were newly diagnosed with high blood pressure. After 12 weeks, blood pressure levels had significantly decreased to the normal range.
The promising results of this study may be related to the high levels of antioxidants in cardamom. In fact, the participants’ antioxidant status 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, meaning it can promote urination to remove water that builds up in your body, for example around your heart.
Cardamom extract has been shown to increase urination and decrease blood pressure in rats.
2- May Contain Cancer-Fighting Compounds
The compounds in cardamom may 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 may 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 who ate the cardamom developed cancer, compared to over 90% of the control group.
Research on human cancer cells and cardamom indicate similar results. One study showed that a certain compound in the spice stopped oral cancer cells in test tubes from multiplying.
Even though the results are promising, these studies have only been conducted on mice or in test tubes. Human research is needed before stronger claims can be made.
3- May Protect from Chronic Diseases Thanks to Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Cardamom is rich in compounds that may 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 diseases.
Antioxidants, found in abundance in cardamom, protect cells from damage and stop 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 eating a diet high in carbs and fat.
Though there are not as many studies on the anti-inflammatory effects of cardamom in humans, research shows that supplements may increase antioxidant status by up to 90%.
4- May Help with Digestive Problems, Including Ulcers
Cardamom has been used for thousands of years to help with digestion. It’s often mixed with other medicinal spices to relieve discomfort, nausea and vomiting.
The most researched property of cardamom, as it pertains to relieving stomach issues, is its possible ability to heal ulcers.
In one study, rats were fed extracts of cardamom, turmeric and sembung leaf 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.
Test-tube research also suggests that cardamom may protect against Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria linked to the development of most stomach ulcer issues.
More research is needed to know if the spice would have the same effect against ulcers in humans.
5- May Treat Bad Breath and Prevent Cavities
The use of cardamom to treat bad breath and improve oral health is an ancient remedy. In some cultures, it’s common to freshen your breath by eating entire cardamom pods after a meal.
Even the chewing gum manufacturer Wrigley uses the spice in one of its products.
The reason why cardamom can lead to minty fresh breath may have to do with its ability to fight common mouth bacteria.
One study found that cardamom extracts were effective in fighting five bacteria that can cause dental cavities. In some test-tube cases, the extracts prevented the growth of the 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 have been conducted in test tubes, making it unclear how the results may apply to humans.