From Indian masala chai to Scandinavian baking to Turkish coffee and even old English love spells, cardamom has enchanted people across the globe for millennia. One of the oldest spices in history, cardamom offers not only scientifically proven physical health benefits but also potent energetic ones - and a sweet and minty taste to boot! May we invite you into the magic of cardamom?
A Versatile and Well Traveled Spice
Originating from wild plants in Southern India, the seeds and extracts of cardamom have been used for their medicinal properties since the pharaohs built the pyramids. In fact, the Greeks and Romans used cardamom for its strong aroma in perfumes and oils. Though, the Vikings are said to be the first to find the spice during traveling and brought it to Scandinavia.
What Types of Cardamom Are There?
The spice has a very strong and unique taste unlike any other. Let’s breakdown the two different types: black cardamom and green cardamom.
Black cardamom is native to the Eastern Himalayas and has a minty coolness to it. Black cardamom is rarely used in sweet dishes, most likely due to being in the “warming” spice category with black pepper and cloves.
Green cardamom is one of the most expensive spices by weight in the world though it is more common than black. While black cardamom has a more smoky flavor, green cardamom is sweet and minty.
What Health Benefits Does Cardamom Have?
Cardamom has been used to treat certain ailments for centuries. Here are a few of the most notable health benefits:
- Heart Health - Cardamom research suggests that the antioxidant properties could improve body functions and heart health.
- Oral Health - Think that mint and cinnamon are the only spices that help with oral health? Think again! Cardamom has been used as a breath freshener for thousands of years.
- Digestive Issues - It is excellent for relieving stomach issues, nausea, and discomfort. It also has the possibility to reduce ulcers.
- Oxygen and Breathing - Used in aromatherapy, cardamom gives off a refreshing odor that can enhance your body’s oxygen during exercise.
- Blood Sugar Levels - In powder form, cardamom may be able to lower blood sugar.
- True Love - A highly aromatic spice, many cultures use cardamom as an aphrodisiac. In fact, cardamom is mentioned in the Arabian Nights (a famous collection of Persian, Indian, and Arabian folktales) where it is noted for its amorous qualities.
Sometimes referred to as the Queen of Spices, cardamom is noted the third most expensive spice in the world...and we can understand why. With such an interesting history and wide range of uses, what’s not to love?